Brains have always fascinated me for some reason. I’ve always wondered how our brains work. How do we actually store and recall memories? How does our brain somehow tell our heart to keep beating, our lungs to keep breathing without us even thinking about it? How do we learn? Slowly science is unraveling these mysteries, and the results are not only amazing, but also open doors to incredibly complex moral dilemmas.
I have always known that our brains are basically chemical, with chemicals being responsible for electrical impulses firing between the neurons, as well as being responsible for makeup of the structure of brain cells etc. With this in mind, the entirety of “who I am”, being my memories, my personality etc., all comes down to the different levels of chemicals in my brain, and where they are stored. Taking it a step further, if somehow we were able to recreate a brain and copy exactly the quantities of every chemical, and its location in my brain, then we should have a perfect copy of my memories and personality. I.e. if we planted that brain into a body, then that would be “me”. Scary thought eh!
This week I read that scientists have discovered which part of the brain is used to store memories regarding music. This immediately made me again think about how close we may be to being able to copy (or create) a chemical construct of the brain (or likely to be part of the brain). If scientists could accurately create a copy the part of someone’s brain that stores the tunes, the next step would be then to try and hook it up to the brain of one of the patients with semantic dementia to see if it helped.
Skipping ahead to the future, not only would people be able to live forever by transferring their memories and personality to a new brain if the old one was on its last legs, you could also experience other people’s experiences and feelings by temporarily manipulating the applicable part of your brain so that the chemical makeup was exactly the same as the other person! Imagine that for medical purposes (presuming that we haven’t cured all the diseases by then). The doctor or nurse wouldn’t have to ask you “where it hurts” or “how is the pain”; they could actually plug in and experience it themselves.