brain transplant - immortality?

Since medical science can transplant just about any organ, I figure if they haven’t yet transplanted a brain from one pig to another pig, they will soon. So my questions are:

  1. Have brain transplants been attempted, and if so, have they been successful?

  2. If brain transplants are ever mastered, could this provide someone with immortality? I assume that if my body was crapping out, but my brain was healthy, they could take my brain, put it into a new body, and I’d continue to live. I assume that I would be the same except that I’d have a new body. Is this possible? (I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to hook up a brain. But I never doubt the advances of science.)


I don’t see why not, but then I’m not a brain surgeon.

Where are you going to get the new body from?

Well, let’s say there is someone that is otherwise healthy but declared brain dead. Perhaps from a traffic accident, or some other type of trauma. The guy has a head that could fit my brain, same blood type, etc. but he will never be able to function again without machines. If he (or his family) decides to donate his body, I’ll take it!

Just an idea: cloning? You could grow a new body and just pop the old brain into the new head and hook up the nerves . . . well, it could work in science fiction, anyway.

What I’m curious about is how long can a brain survive? Assuming it is always in a healthy body (or other life-support system), what is a brain’s maximum life expectancy? Surely it, like everything else, would break down sooner or later.

In facat, this is no longer science fiction.

Scientists have transplanted the head of a monkey onto another monkey’s body.

Pretty amazing stuff.

Forgot to add: However, the ‘transplant’ was really only a way to use another monkey’s body to provide blood and nutrients to the brain. In other words, if this happened to you you wouldn’t have so much a new body as you’d be using some other body as a life support system for your brain. You wouldn’t be able to control the other body in any way. You’d be a quadriplegic.

But even that may be of interest to some people. If you were dying of liver cancer and had weeks to live, and doctors offered to put your brain on ‘life support’ indefinitely using a donated body, how many people would accept that to certain death?

Or, how many old people with failing bodies would rather be alive for another 50 years as a quadriplegic, rather than dead in another one or two years?

I want to see where the world is headed in 50 years. Assuming I could still comprehend everything, I’d probably do it.

As far as them transplanting a brain, the number of connections the brain makes with all the other parts of the body is pretty large and I’m not sure if we have any sort of exact map of how every single nerve connects. Its probably doable but difficult.

The brain’s cells most likely have a fixed lifespan however, just like other cells.

Sam Stone,

Wow. Good stuff. I had no idea this was done with any success. I am curious as to why controling the body would not be the next step. Connecting the nerves would be extremely difficult, but eventually, I believe this hurdle will also be cleared.

One question that the article raised. It said that “Your person is largely embodied but not entirely in your brain”. What does that mean?

Assuming the nervous system could be connected, why wouldn’t the transplanted brain be able to send signals to the arms, legs, etc. and operate as the brain dictates? I figure the brain and body would have to get in sync, but it should (theoretically) be a process of physical therapy. Once mastered, the limits of my new body should be restricted only by the quality of the body itself.

By the way, an earlier thread titled On the subject of decapitated heads and Soviet experimentation might be of some interest to you. It even includes a link to a film of a severed dog head being kept alive by mechanical means, using 1950s technology. (Russian 1950s technology, at that.)

It’s ridiculous, that’s what. I mean, if you lopped of Abe Lincoln’s (living) head and grafted it onto a new body, you wouldn’t say that he’d become a different individual, would you? With a brain transplant, all you’d be doing is not transplanting the few inches of meat and bone that surrounded a brain originally.

Even if you want to try and figure in the human “soul,” the brain is clearly where each soul “lives,” or at least acts through. But matters of the supernatural are not the realm of medical science.

Of course, in all fairness, the guy in the article might have been trying to make some sort of reference to a psychological “body image.” But, even if that’s the case, the mental effects of finding yourself transplanted into a new body couldn’t be any worse than the mental effects of, say, being horribly disfigured in an accident.

Well, if you did have the technology to attach the brain to a new spinal chord (and the optic nerves too, I’d imagine) there’d be the slight problem in that the long neurons of the spine aren’t exactly clearly labeled—you might accidently connect the nerves that are supposed to control the legs to the part of the brain that usually receives tactile information from the upper esophagus. However, from my understanding of neurology and the adaptability of the brain, you could probably learn to control even a “miswired” body, given enough time.

However, the brain being transplanted is a weak link in and of itself…even in a 25 year old body, an 80 year old brain might still get Alzheimer’s disease

For that matter…does anyone here know if a human brain could even survive being removed from one skull, and stuck in another, even assuming you could reattach all the nerves and the circulatory system? It’d be a lot of manhandling for a very delicate organ to take.

I’m not sure that it could be - the human spinal column doesn’t necessarily have a standardised layout - it isn’t anything like plugging ribbon cables together - it may even be that there aren’t the right number of available and appropriate connections in either direction.

Currently, a brain transplant would leave you not only paralysed, but insensate - taking the brain out of the head would necessitate severing the connections to eyes, ears and everything else.

I think he’s simplly saying that in part what makes ‘you’ is not just the thinking parts of the brain, but the way your body feels, the way nerves are mapped, the configuration of the spinal column, etc.

But I fail to see how you would feel any different than someone paralyzed from the neck down because of a severed spinal cord.

If the alternative was death, I’d prefer having my head stuck in a jar and being fed like a fish.

I’ll take one bet: By the time we are able to take a brain, disconnect it and keep it alive long enough to put it in a new body and hook it properly up to blood flow, by that time : we will have a cure for alzhiemer’s and for spinal cord severing; the latter of which we have already made some progress on in rats using stem cells.

I think the real trick to this working is not damaging the brain when disconnecting, moving and reattaching… solving all of which and the problems associated with it, seem to be decades (at least) away.

I would. What a grotesque future to contemplate, a disembodied brain, with no way to interact with the world; deaf, dumb, blind and paralyzed indefinitely, with no forseeable chance of improvement. How is that better than death? **

**The Great Beyond has you a little spooked, eh Sam? Death is a part of life dude, better get used to it. People have been doing it for millions of years. There are much worse things than dying.

The procedure Sam Stone was referring to involves the transplant of the entire head, not just the brain. So you would retain senses like sight and hearing. You’d just be paralyzed from the neck down.

I’m confused about something regarding the monkey head transplant. In order for the body to nourish the brain and head, wouldn’t some of the nerves have to be connected so that the brain could control the heart and lungs? Or was the body hooked up to some heart and lung machine?

I know a lot of people that used to think that.

Then they got old.

Brain in a jar for me, please. It’ll be just like Futurama

And people have been trying to avoid death for just as long. Many things were once a part of life and accepted as just the way things were but we have been able to remove them or at least change how their effect on our lives.