Video of the ‘Lazarus sign’

I’ve just found a video that has footage of the ‘Lazarus sign‘ – a complex reflex movement that can occur in brain dead patients where the arms are raised to the chest and often fall crossed onto the body.

We’ve covered this reflex before, noting that despite its complexity it is generated by the spine, which is why it can still appear after brain death.

However, I didn’t realise there a video of it was available online where you can see the unnerving post-mortem movement triggered by doctors as they move the head.

If you’re uncomfortable about seeing dead bodies this isn’t the video for you, particularly as it shows what seems to be quite a young lad who presumably just very recently passed away.

It’s titled and narrated in Portuguese by (I’m guessing) a Brazilian medical team to demonstrate the reflex.

I noticed there’s also a video with a sequence of stills of the Lazarus sign in English which also explains the concept of a spinal reflex arc, although you’ll need to login to YouTube to see it.

Link to video of Lazarus sign in Portuguese.
Link to short presentation on spinal reflex arc and Lazarus sign.


  1. Dias
    Posted October 20, 2010 at 3:56 am | Permalink

    I find the video slightly unnerving, not because it’s a dead body moving, but because that’s the position my arms are most comfortable in. I tend to do that with my arms & not even think about it. Makes me wonder if I have brain damage or something.

  2. hat_eater
    Posted October 20, 2010 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    I didn’t expected to be shocked or even saddened, but I was – my inadequate knowledge of English prevented me from interpreting “quite a young lad” properly as “child”.
    Anyway – the sight is unnerving to say the least.

  3. orcasha
    Posted October 21, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    The Lazarus sign is something that anyone with an interest in neuroscience / psychology should be made aware of. I find it infinitely fascinating just how complex reflex arcs can be, especially when multiple spinal levels need to be stimulated to produce the outcome.

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] of the fine blog “Mind Hacks” (shouts to Raki Kam for the shared link), here’s video footage of the “Lazarus […]

  2. […] Video of the ‘Lazarus sign’ I’ve just found a video that has footage of the ‘Lazarus sign‘ – a complex reflex movement that […] […]

  3. […] covered the mechanism behind the somewhat disconcerting movement before, and have noted an earlier video, but this one seems to have been uploaded quite […]

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