[ExI] How to Replace Uninjured Parts of the Brain

Ben Zaiboc bbenzai at yahoo.com
Sun Feb 21 22:11:22 UTC 2010

meteor girl <girl.meteor at gmail.com> asked:

> Will someone take a guess at how one might go about
> replacing each
> individual synapse, neuron, their neurotransmitters, etc.
> without losing
> continuity?

OK, here's one guess:

First, you need to die (for legal reasons).

Then, your brain gets prepped, chilled, and ends up in liquid nitrogen.
OR preserved in some other way that preserves the microscopic structure (plastination of some kind possibly, as discussed in another post).

An unknown time later, your brain gets destructively scanned and the resulting information is loaded into a system that can sort through it, and compile it into a form that can be used to drive a hardware system of some kind, in such a way as to replicate all the dynamic information processes that used to go on in your biological brain.

That hardware system is activated, and your mind is run.

This should preserve continuity if you accept that continuity is preserved over an episode of general anaesthesia, for example.

This replacement swaps biological neurons etc. for non-biological equivalents.

I'm afraid that at present, that's your only option.

Another guess:

We'll almost certainly have neural interfaces before we have artificial neurons, so there may be a possibility of hooking certain parts of the brain up to external processors that can emulate neurons.  

Just today I was discussing neural interfaces with someone doing research on neuromorphic systems, and learned of a method involving a bit of genetic engineering to insert photoreceptor proteins into the cell membrane, so that light of a specific frequency can trigger the neuron to fire.  

Coupled with a complementary method using fluorescent proteins, it may be possible to create a two-way interface that doesn't involve stabbing neurons with spikes and electrocuting them, as current systems do. 

It may then be practical to route signals in and out of the brain to a computer system that can replace or duplicate various neural circuits.

But if it's actual synthetic neurons in your brain alongside the biological ones that you want, I think you'll have to wait for nanotechnology so sophisticated that by the time it's developed, the other options will be easy, and will have been around for a while.

Ben Zaiboc


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