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Why am i seeing stars after bumping my head? © Getty Images

Why am I seeing stars after bumping my head?

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A big hit on the noggin can really get the nerves jangling.

Asked by: Daniel Tilly, Market Harborough

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The stars you see are actually neurons in your visual cortex firing spontaneously. This occurs when their oxygenation level changes abruptly either because you have stood up too quickly or because your brain has been suddenly accelerated by a sharp blow, sloshing blood into or out of the capillaries.

The neurons closest to capillaries are affected first and, if it happens fast enough, they fire well before the surrounding neurons. This results in isolated signals that your brain interprets as lights.


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Authors

luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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