Egg yolk is helping scientists understand how to prevent brain injuries.


Every day when you move around with your brain, there are soft beats inside your skull. Like a soft egg yolk floating in a cloud of perfectly clean egg whiteness.

All it takes is a sudden jerk or strike, and your brain is on one side with shocking velocity. Whether it collides against the skull or goes for a spin, the damage can be severe, as we know from people who have experienced a traumatic brain injury.

But what exactly happens to the brain at that moment of impact? How does it work?

Research investigating the biomechanics of brain injuries typically involves crash test dummies for accidents, athletes who wear a mouthguard or helmet, equipped with motion sensors, or models simulating the human brain.

Now, scientists have thrown eggs into the mix.

How the egg yolk reacts when different forces are applied. (Lang et al., Physics of Fluids, 2021)

What began as a kitchen curiosity for a team of engineers with hatching equipment for home cooks led them to study the basic physics governing the motion of soft matter in a liquid environment, Who used eggs to imitate the brain.

“Critical thinking, coupled with simple experiments within the kitchen, led to a series of systematic studies to investigate the mechanisms that cause egg yolk deformity,” said biomedical engineer Qianhong Wu from Villanova University in Pennsylvania.

Although their approach was somewhat unusual, the results of this study aid our understanding of how soft materials such as brain tissue, gait, and deformity are when exposed to external tissues.

The more we know and can be responsible for the concrete forces affecting the brain, the better researchers can improve safety systems in vehicles, design headgear for safety, and protect sports players from injury. Can help improve their technique.

Inside the skull, the brain resides in a shock-absorbing fluid called cerebrospinal fluid.

Concealer is the most common and mild form of traumatic brain injury (TBI), and the word actually comes from the Latin word meaning ‘violently shaking’. But even a sub-conceiving shock to the head is enough to trigger a change in the function of brain cells, studies have shown.

What causes brain injuries, head spin as a mechanism for brain injury was proposed back in the 1940s. It’s easy to imagine if you think of a punch to the chin that throws the head back, or someone is whispering to deal with one.

But there is often confusion about concurrent mechanics, as there are different ways to use that information to measure head effects and predict brain injury.

Early research efforts looked at straight-line or ‘linear’ effects, where the brain collides in one direction and bounces off the skull. The focus then shifted to rotational forces that bend the brain within the skull.

Needless to say, it is difficult to quantify which way the brain can actually twist such an effect because we cannot peer inside people’s growing heads.

But scientists can still learn something by reviving the brain, using similar materials in their cerebrospinal fluid.

In this study, researchers began by measuring the physical characteristics of an egg’s yolk and its outer membrane, so they could later determine the amount of stresses that were eggs during laboratory experiments.

The study authors write in their paper, “To damage or distort the egg yolk, an egg will be tried to move and rotate as quickly as possible, so the eggs were broken into a clear container and three types of impact Were subjected to.

The team looked at how eggs shrink and pull in different directions with a rapid rotational effect, and how they change with the direct hit of the container.

When a rotating egg-filled container was rapidly restrained, the yolk became “tremendous” which was distorted by the disintegrated rotational effect, and for the deformed yolk to resume its original round shape. Took about a minute.

“We suspect that rotational, especially [decelerating] The rotational effect is more damaging in the case of the brain, ”Wu said.

The results of this study were found in previous research parallel to the effects of vehicle crash testing and pendulum head, which considered rotational head effects to be a better indicator of traumatic brain injury risk than linear acceleration.

These findings resonate with the consensus that the brain is more sensitive to rotational motion than linear movement.

But this does not mean that we should completely miss out on straight-line effects, as other researchers have proposed new injury metrics by combining measures of lineal and rotational head acceleration to assess concurrent risk.

Brain injuries are certainly complex, and many unfortunately go undetermined. At least, this clever experiment allows us to see bestial effects for ourselves.

The study was published in Physics of liquids.

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