The magnetic imaging of the patients of brain-death shows a clear-cut 'hollow-skull sign', which is a clear indication of permanent loss of functions (MSPC 1995, Perry 2011).
Neo-cortical or Higher-Brain Death
Another important part of the brain is the cortex which is further divided into several major lobes, like the temporal lobe whose work accounts in the language sector as well as the visualization and temporary memory storage, the occipital lobe which recognizes the visual information and the parietal lobe which controls the social interactions and the corresponding emotions and reactions. Any damages to such areas can cause hallucinations, schizophrenia, temporary memory loss, problems with words and numeric and social dis-connections. These are some minor issues which are not account in terms of brain death, rather are treated psychologically and with other medical techniques. But the severe cases might include drastic social behaviors and inabilities to recognize one's own self and others. This eventually leads to unconsciousness, non-person hood and non-cognitive. All these things account in neo-cortical death of the brain in which the patient becomes unconscious of his own self and the surroundings. He becomes unable to identify things and relations and the neo-cortex becomes dead, while other parts of the brain and the systems remain alive and working. Hence according to higher-brain death arguers, brain death can be defined if the higher and deeper functions of nervous system get cessation since these are the functions which makes a human different from animals. As the social and moral characteristics are essential in the life of a normal human, patients suffering from higher-brain death are not dead physically, but they experience life without any reason and their own being becomes nothing except a useless entity. If the consciousness is lost permanently, then the person loses his essential significant characteristic and thus can be regarded as socially dead (MSPC 1995, Laureys 2011).
Debate and Arguments
It can undoubtedly be concluded that the actual brain death is the whole-brain death, in which the entire brain gets dead and the patient is to be shifted upon life supporters, after which the working organs can be donated and transplanted. The whole-brain-oriented definition of death does not depart from the traditional concept since eventually, if the organs are not to be donated, the death is allowed to occur by cardiac arrest naturally, which was the classic definition of death. In contrast, the higher-brain death does not account for the cessation of cardio-vascular and other systems of the body and is considered purely new and modern approach in medical sciences. But the main criticism about higher-brain death is that when supporting the argument, most defenders go towards and beyond the slippery slope argument, according to which Euthanasia can be practiced if there is an essential requirement. But primary euthanasia can be a real slippery slope and the practice would become widened in order to get rid of unwanted persons. Since patients suffering from high-brain deaths are almost useless to the society, hence the defenders of the treatment argue that euthanasia can be performed in order to rest the disturbed soul. It can also happen that such patients are not taken under good health care which propels them towards death. In my point-of-view, the high-brain death is definitely like a slippery slope in which one can cross the ethical boundaries to perform acts like euthanasia. For this reason high-brain death is not acclaimed at most parts of the world, and the whole-brain death is the actual death of the brain and body (BBC Ethics Guide 2012, Perry 2011).
Laureys S. 2005. "Science and society: death, unconsciousness and the brain." Nature Reviews. Neuroscience. 6 (11): 899-909.
Perry, D.L. 2011. Ethics and Personhood: Some Issues in Contemporary Neurological Science and Technology. Retrieved from: http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/submitted/Perry/personhood.html
BBC Ethics Guide. Overview of anti-euthanasia arguments. http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/euthanasia/against/against_1.shtml
MSPC: The moral status of the persons on the fringe of consciouness.1995. Retrieved from: http://www.jeramyt.org/papers/personhood_neurology.html