Document Type


Publication Date





Cambridge University Press




The human brain has been at the center of medicolegal debates since the late 1960s, when efforts began to develop an alternative definition of death: one centered on brain function instead of heart and lung function. Technological developments and new surgical techniques made this new definition of death, sometimes called "brain death," seem necessary. Mechanical ventilation, a technology that allows respiration and therefore heartbeat to continue after the brain ceases functioning, and heart transplantation, which requires a corpse with a beating heart as a donor, necessitated the definitional alternative. Irreversible cessation of all functions of the brain has been accepted both medically and legally as confirming the death of an individual. The medicolegal discussions have since concentrated on examination of the brain in living humans.

Link to Publisher Site (BU Community Subscription)

Included in

Law Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.