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Pathoclisis (from -clisis meaning "predisposition" in Ancient Greek)[1] is the theory that certain specialized parts of the brain are the first to be damaged in the case of disease, lack of oxygen, or malnutrition. The selective vulnerability of certain neurons can then lead to the expression of pathology.[2]

Pathoclisis has been postulated to mediate the sensory effects of a near-death experience.


Cécile Vogt-Mugnier and her husband Oskar Vogt came up with the idea of pathoclisis through their research on insects and the human cerebral cortex.[1] They defined it as the "genomically-determined excessive variability, reaching in intensity the degree of pathological change".


More so than any other organ, the brain is remarkably heterogeneous in its cellular composition.[2] The wide variety of cell types might thus be the basis for selective vulnerability.


  1. ^ a b T. Kuroiwa; A. Baethmann; Z. Czernicki (1 January 2004). Brain Edema XII: Proceedings of the 12th International Symposium : Hakone, Japan, November 10-13, 2002. Springer. p. 30. ISBN 978-3-211-00919-2. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  2. ^ a b CIBA Foundation Symposium (30 April 2008). Novel Infectious Agents and the Central Nervous System. John Wiley & Sons. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-470-51362-0. Retrieved 24 December 2012.