I’ve heard that there was a successful brain transplant operation with monkies in the late 70’s, is this true? If so, how far off until there could be human brain transplantion? Could it lead to rich people gaining a sort of immortality? Or, could the brain just get old and die?

If it were true, wouldn’t you think that there would also be successful monkey brain transplants in the 80s, 90s, and 00s, considering that we have vastly better technology than in the 70s?

First off I’d like to see the cite for a successful brain transplant of any creature (where the creature in question continued functioning…i.e. not dead).

Second brains do age…ever see senile old people? Brain cells die throughout your lifetime. Lifestyle affects this to some degree but regardless of your lifestyle they die anyway as you age (I forget at what age the die off starts but IIRC it is in your teens). Your brain has great capacity to allow for this loss of grey matter but sooner or later it will catch up to you.

Here’s the cite for the successful brain transplant:

…can’t find anything else on the brain transplant. Maybe someone else can. Hopefully that’s a good enough cite.

Thanks for getting what you could but it really isn’t a very good cite. There is zero detail about what was done. For all i know he took the brain out of one dead monkey and put it into a different dead monkey and called it a transplant. If such a thing did occur in any real sense you can bet good money there would be a boatload of information about it. If it could be done many paralyzed people around the world would be ecstatic. Not that paralyzed people need a new body but a successful brain transplant (in the sense I think we are talking about) would require re-attaching severed nerves. To date nobody can do that and the proof is simply found in all the people in the world still sitting in a wheel chair due to a spinal injury.

If such a thing ever did become possible (brain transplants) the moral implications would be staggering but unless you can reconnect the nerves merely getting the brain to a new body and supplied with oxygen such that the brain survives is definitely not something anyone would want done. The person would be completely isolated from all outside input. Ask anyone who’s been in a sensory deprivation tank for an hour what that’s like (an acid trip without the acid [LSD]). If the brain continued with zero outside sensory input for a few days I would wager flat out insanity would ensue. It would be a horror for the consciousness locked away in that brain.

I don’t really have anything to add other than the links. The second link says the monkey couldn’t feel or move but could see and hear. And there’s a photo of the frankenmonkey.

Thanks pokey.

Essentially it looks like what was done was chop the head off of one monkey and use another monkey’s body as life support for the head. Given that the nerves were not reattached I can only assume the body used to support the head of the first monkey was itself kept running by machines (the ‘new’ head could in no way control breathing, heart, digestion and so on as there would be no communication from the head to its ‘new’ body).

I support using animals in research but this wants to make me puke. The one article had some scientists labelling it as ‘grotesque’ and I couldn’t agree more. As near as I can see (with my admittedly non-medical background) absolutely nothing of use was learned from this and a monkey was tortured (yes…tortured) for no reason whatsoever. Has science been advanced by this? Will anyone be helped in any fashion from this experiment? No and no. Till doctors can reattach nerves such an experiment is utterly useless and even then the ethical and moral implications are so huge I feel it would require a long debate in the medical and the world at large before trying anything like this again.

That doctor should have his license revoked, degree stripped and made to empty Porta-Potties for the rest of his life.

Here is an article from Dr. Robert White himself on his experiences. He provides a case for the procedure that explains why he thinks science was advanced by his experiment, or more precisely, by the tools that he developed to make the experiment work.

Unfortunately, like the other articles it is lacking on details of procedure and success. The real question is whether the brain functioned properly after the operation or whether it was just being kept alive - although that is quite a feat in itself. I’d like to know more about the monkey’s fate after the operation.

Except that it still does not explain why - even despite PETA’s objections - he has not repeated the surgery. It’s a very frustrating article - almost like reading a cold fusion advocate. Something seems to be there but it’s too slippery for any outsider to grasp.

“Give me immortality, or give me death!” --The Firesign Theater

Immortality by brain transplant is a poor strategy; especially using this method, which simply uses the whole head.
A logical development of this would be selective cloning of a new body to attach the head to, or making a robotic like support system to carry the head around and supply it with nutrients and blood…
a charming picture of the future of humanity, ancient heads on sparkling new bodies; but not one I would recommend.
Nor, unfortunately, can I rule it out.

SF worldbuilding at

The head transplate is completely seperate from what I heard about a brain transplant in the 1970’s. I wish I could find more info on THAT operation.

now that I’m reading the first article from pokey, i’m reminded of a “Tales from the crypt” episode where an old man loves a young woman… he’s rich, but he hasn’t told her yet. he asks her to be with him but she says he is way too old for her… so he goes to a ‘frankenstein’ like doctor. he ends up getting a whole body transplant or something to that effect. but he ends up going broke in the process.

then he doesn’t even get the girl. she goes after the young guy that turned into the old man because he was rich. ha.


one of my friends was saying that it would be impossible to do brain transplantion surgery due to the nerve ending connections… but i think that it’s just a little ways off. we just need more refined nanotechnology. how far off could we be?

Yeah, its messed up.
Taking Social 20 (again) i’ve learned a few things about life 400 years ago in “europe”. How experimenting on dead bodies was totally barbaric and against the church and the ways of god. These men who had to grave rob, were not barbaric, but wanted to learn more about the human body instead of just mere speculation. Pouring hot oil on wounds was not a good thing, neither was medicines which contained mostly alcohol…
If they had never done these late night esperiments our medical knowledge of the innerworkings of the human body may of been greatly lowered! But grave robbing and nightime experiments, that’s messed up too.

In a way, this research could be good.

Actually they do make pretty good analgesics:D .

Not the oil!!!

I think that could be true. Most people are quick to call something strange or sick… then hundreds of years later their work might be hailed as “ahead of their time.”