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Neuroscientists Provide First Look At The Zombie Brain

Monday, August 15th, 2011

As far as we know,  nobody has ever harvested the undead brain of a zombie to properly examine it, and get a better idea of what causes a person to turn into a walking flesh-eating virus. Furtunately, there are neuroscientists working on a theoretical model of not only the zombie brain, but an actual medical diagnosis of the zombie condition.

Bradley Voytek, PhD, and Timothy Verstynen, PhD, met in graduate school, and when they realized they had a shared interest in the undead, they began to apply their knowledge of brain chemistry and disorders to the creation of a zombie brain model. Neurology Today recently interviewed the duo about  their findings.

My graduate advisor had always said how people with cerebellar ataxia had a “zombie walk”… So that was the next logical link-up to known diseases. We just kept going with that kind of “forensic neuroscience” logic and after a while, we identified several “symptoms” that we could link to known circuits.

The image above shows an MRI model of the key areas of the brain that are expected to become atrophied or destroyed by the zombification, an affliction the two doctors have diagnosed as Consciousness Deficit Hypoactivity Disorder. Dr Verstynen provides a detailed description of CDHD:
Zombies suffer from a global impairment of several systems. First, they suffer from impulsive-reactive aggression disorder linked to a loss of the orbitofrontal control signals to the amygdala. Thus, they have a hyper-amygdala disorder… We also found they suffer from ataxic movements due to a loss of the cerebellum. Additionally, they have bilateral hippocampal damage, which explains the lack of long-term memory consolidation. Obviously, the whole arcuate language circuit is destroyed in the zombies, which explains their aphasias. In some cases, Broca’s circuit may be intact enough to allow limited communication abilities, such as moaning, but assuredly, the posterior language areas are all destroyed leading them to lack verbal comprehension. Their reduced pain response is due to damage to the secondary somatosensory cortex, although this may also be mediated by damage to ascending spinal pathways. They also have attentional locking problems, such as Balint’s syndrome, due to bilateral degeneration of the posterior parietal cortices, which also affects their coordination abilities… Dysfunction of the ventral striatal reward pathways leads to addictive behaviors, particularly a “flesh addiction.” Finally, they suffer from a completely lack of meta-consciousness thanks to an ablation of the claustrum.”
Since CDHD destroys so much of a subjects brain, there will not likely be any cure for the disorder.  The best treatment is still destroying whats left of the brain to put them out of their misery.

Convert Your Baby Carriage Into A Mobile Arsenal & Other Zombie Defense Gun Tips

Monday, August 1st, 2011

The prevailing wisdom in modern zombie fiction suggests that the use of guns, while more effective than other weapons, may not always be the best decision,  since there is a greater chance that the noise will draw the attention of more undead, or that you will injure yourself or a fellow survivor.

That said,  when the shambling hoards begin to infest our streets, we will all invariably be in a position where we will need to shoot our way out to survive. Luckily, for those among us who don’t regularly use firearms, the folks at Outdoor Life attended the 4th annual Outbreak Omega Zombie Shootout in Minnesota last month, and compiled a list of practical advice for that day when you’re staring down the ironsights at a group of your recently turned friends and family.

-You’re going to want at least a rifle, shotgun and a pistol. To carry all of these guns you’re going to have to get creative, like converting a baby stroller into a gun carriage.

-If you want to live you’re going to have to shoot quickly. Think light-kicking semi-autos.

-Join your fellow zombie killers to increase your odds of survival. Communication is key here. Designate which targets you’re going to engage and which ones your partner is going to engage.

-If you’re shooting with a scope, leave it on low power in case you’re ambushed at close range. You can always crank it up for longer shots.

-An AR is the perfect zombie gun:
1) Extremely versatile and easy to modify
2) High ammo capacity
3) Easy to shoot
4) Light recoil
5) Durable

-Save your empties

-When the flesh eaters close in and all hope seems lost, go to your ace in the hole, the Black and Decker Tactical Chainsaw. Make sure you include the splash plate to keep the zombie fluids from getting into your eyes nose or mouth.

A tactical chainsaw bayonet with splash guard? I think I just found my next rainy-day workshop project.

[Outdoor Life]

Are Wasps The Origin Of The Zombie Outbreak?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Chris Tisdale is the WeirdThings beat writer covering the latest updates about the coming zombie apocalypse.

Some people believe that the coming zombie apocalypse will result from a mutation or manipulation of something that already occurs in nature, typically a virus or other disease, but I say we might not need to look further than the insect world.  Take the wasp species Dinocampus coccinellae, for example. Like most parasitic creatures, this insect uses a host organism -in this case, a ladybug- as a living incubator for its eggs. When the larvae are hatched, however, something interesting happens. According to HowStuffWorks:

Normally, the host organism mercifully dies at this point, but DC’s ladybug is not so lucky. Not only does it live, but a little behavior modification forces it to hang around and “guard” its parasite-baby as it grows into adulthood beneath its protective bulk. Scientists believe that secretions left by the larva when it bursts out might play a role in reprograming the host.

Amazingly, many ladybugs actually survive this process, and resume “normal behavior” when the wasps reach maturity and the zombification wears off.

Not only does this study show that zombies do exist in nature, it shows something can survive it. Might come in handy one day.

[HowStuffWorks]