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People are dying to have their brains preserved

March 22, 2018

What if, long after you're gone, scientists could transform the synapses in your brain into a computer-generated simulation so that others could experience your memories firsthand?

How would you like your memories to live on forever? What if, long after you're gone, scientists could transform the synapses in your brain into a computer-generated simulation so that others could experience your memories firsthand? One company is promising to turn this sci-fi construct into reality, but there's a catch. They have to kill you first.

According to Antonio Regalado for the MIT Technology Review: "Nectome is a preserve-your-brain-and-upload-it company. Its chemical solution can keep a body intact for hundreds of years, maybe thousands, as a statue of frozen glass. The idea is that someday in the future scientists will scan your bricked brain and turn it into a computer simulation. That way, someone a lot like you, though not exactly you, will smell the flowers again in a data server somewhere.

This story has a grisly twist, though. For Nectome’s procedure to work, it’s essential that the brain be fresh. The company says its plan is to connect people with terminal illnesses to a heart-lung machine in order to pump its mix of scientific embalming chemicals into the big carotid arteries in their necks while they are still alive (though under general anesthesia)."

According to Rafi Letzter for Live Science: "Here are some of the first responses Live Science got from three neuroscientists and their graduate students after contacting them in the last 48 hours to seek their opinions of the company:

'Oh, lord.'

'Don't you think it's not even worth reporting? You're just giving them more publicity.'

'Oof, OK.'

The last quote came from Jens Foell, a neuroscientist at Florida State University who specializes in using neuroimaging (MRIs, mostly) to study the relationship between the brain's doings and a person's behavior, perception and personality traits.

It's 'cool' that Nectome managed to preserve the pig brain, Foell told Live Science, but what the company preserved is 'not the whole story' of what that brain was or the information it processed and contained."

According to Honor Whiteman for Medical News Today: "Who would do such a thing? Well, Nectome have already rolled out a waiting list for the procedure, primarily as a way to achieve funding. For a $10,000 deposit, you can sign up to the possibility of having your brain and memories preserved.

According to Nectome, 25 people have already signed up, despite the procedure not being fully fleshed out.

While the preservation technique has shown some feasibility, scientists are still not sure whether it is even possible to retrieve memories from the human brain after death, and Nectome have yet to come up with a strategy that may enable them to "upload" retrieved memories."

To learn more, read "A startup is pitching a mind-uploading service that is '100 percent fatal'" from the MIT Technology Review, "You Should Be Very Skeptical of Nectome's Deadly 'Mind-Uploading Service'" from Live Science, and "Your brain could be backed up, for a deadly price" from Medical News Today

About the Author

Alexis Gajewski | Senior Content Strategist

Alexis Gajewski has over 15 years of experience in the maintenance, reliability, operations, and manufacturing space. She joined Plant Services in 2008 and works to bring readers the news, insight, and information they need to make the right decisions for their plants. Alexis also authors “The Lighter Side of Manufacturing,” a blog that highlights the fun and innovative advances in the industrial sector. 

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