A team of scientists at the MRC lab in the UK have experimentally confirmed that healthy human brains typically reach temperatures as high as 105 degrees F (40.5 C) throughout the course of a normal day.
File under: it’s okay to be a little hot-headed.
We’ve all been told that our regular body temperature should stick pretty close to 98.6 F. If you take an oral reading and it’s much higher than that: you’ve got a fever.
In fact, it was long believed that being hot-headed, in the literal sense, was bad because it meant your brain was being fried!
But, as the MRC team discovered, healthy adults’ brains actually reach feverish temps throughout the day.
Per the team’s research paper:
“Human brain temperature is higher and varies more than previously assumed—by age, sex, menstrual cycle, brain region, and time of day.
This has major implications for temperature monitoring and management, with daily brain temperature rhythmicity emerging as one of the strongest single predictors of survival after brain injury.
We conclude that daily rhythmic brain temperature variation—not absolute brain temperature—is one way in which human brain physiology may be distinguished from pathophysiology.”
This is incredible! The team’s key assertion is that our brains have a temperature rhythm with a daily cycle. Our brains get cooler at night and warmer throughout various points during the day.
What’s even more exciting is that the team thinks that it’s possible to determine how likely a patient is to survive a traumatic brain injury based on the presence and consistency of the temperature rhythm.
What’s it mean?
The implications for this research could be incredible. The temperature data was obtained using non-invasive methods. This means it could be a safe way to track our brain health — that kind of specific, detailed data could lead to a cornucopia of medical breakthroughs in the treatment of brain injuries and neurological disorders.
But there’s a long way to go before any of that can happen. The test was relatively small scale with only 144 participants. We’d like to see international trials set up to confirm the existence of these rhythm cycles across larger demographics and research settings.
Still, this early research seems very promising. You can read the whole paper here in the Brain journal.
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