A previous post established that in order for the human brain to drive the body, various sections must act as a cohesive unit (see: Brain Function & The Zombie Lifespan).  Now it’s important to focus on individual parts of the brain, to determine which processes are necessary to sustain the Zombie, and which are “human” throwaways.

The Traumatic Brain Injury Resource Guide provides an easily understandable breakdown of brain function, as well as descriptions of physical and neurological problems that arise when specific areas are damaged.  Since it’s been theorized that Zombies may derive much of their capability from the brain stem alone, I’ll focus on the stem in this post.

Contrary to popular belief, the brain stem controls very little of the Zombie’s physical or mental functions, as most of its processes are inherently human.  I’ve broken the stem’s “jobs” down Zombie Brain Steminto three categories, to cover what we know is not present in Zombie behavior and ability, what may be present, and what certainly is present.

1) Not Present

Heart rate, sweating, digestion, body temperature, ability to sleep

2) May Be Present

Breathing, swallowing, startle response

3) Present

Balance, seeing, hearing

No credible Zombie theory has ever been put forth that suggests the presence of anything listed in group 1.  As for group 2, Zombie breathing is a new area of research (see: The Nature of Zombie Verbalization).  Swallowing is extremely unlikely, but still open to heated debate.  And though Zombies don’t have any defensive reflexes, they may still retain some sort of startle response that helps them react to external stimuli (noises, flashes of light, etc.).  Group 3 speaks for itself.

I’ll be covering each area of the brain is successive future posts, in hopes of uncovering some solid truths.  More soon.


  1. um. . . swallowing. . .. an item of ‘food’ goes down the esophagus, through the cardiac sphycter, into the stomach. . .and the only way a zombie can keep eating is if the stomach (where any object swallowed goes) is emptied. . . now, unless the undead are going to be vomiting up every lovely morsel of living flesh they eat, this leads to the idea that zombies must have a working digestive system at some level

  2. great post!

    I have a question about zombie brain activity: Can a zombie be paralyzed?
    If a zombie brain does still control or “communicate” with it’s body via the nervous system and spinal cord, can someone immobilize a zombie by snapping it’s neck?

    Great blog, by the way. On behalf of the Skull and Spectacles, the nerd underground commends you.


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