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Michael Egnor asks, Are human brain transplants even possible?


What would be the outcome, he muses, if one person received transplants from the brains of others? If it’s not possible, there may be a good reason why not:

If tiny bits of the brains from all the people in my neighborhood were transplanted into my brain, would there be a neighborhood in my skull?

Now consider this: what if a small part of my neighbor’s brain—say, a piece of his temporal lobe that mediates memory — were transplanted into mine? Who would have the memories? The answer is that, unlike the previous scenarios, this kind of transplant is not currently possible, and there is no objective reason to think that it ever will be.

Central nervous system tissue, including brain tissue and spinal cord tissue, does not regrow function when cut. Perhaps it will be capable of functional regrowth someday. Many neuroscientists think that functional healing of cut brain or spinal cord tissue will someday be possible. But that is hope, not science driven by data. I stress that there is no scientific reason to think it will happen. Brain and spinal cord tissue are quite unique in this sense — most body parts will functionally heal and can be transplanted, but not brain tissue.

I’m going out on a limb here, but I believe the intelligent design perspective may offer insight into the peculiar inability of central nervous system tissue to regenerate. We tend to think of the design perspective in terms of functional ability — e.g. the ability of DNA to code for genes or the ability of ribosomes to manufacture proteins, etc., as evidence for design. But we should also consider biological inabilities as possible manifestations of design…

Michael Egnor, “Are human brain transplants even possible?” at Mind Matters News

Good point. Sometimes what isn’t there is an instance of design. Not always just what is there.

Here’s the discussion from last Wednesday: Are head transplants soul transplants?

Michael Egnor: Are head transplants soul transplants? Specifically, if your head were transplanted, would your soul go with it? Because a human head transplant would induce quadriplegia, many philosophical questions are currently theoretical — but fascinating nonetheless.

Crickets :( AaronS1978
Ok I was waiting for this one to post here Alright where to begin First off, after reading both articles I find his position to be contradictory On one half, the head transplant isn’t a problem because the soul is the animating principle of the body. This is the Catholic perspective which I do agree with. So we aren’t just our brain. But however, in this article he takes a stance that we are almost just are brain. This is by say we would see double vision of a sort, if one person had one half of your brain. Now my questions are as such 1. How would we know what our other half of our brain was experiencing? They are not connected so we would not know the experience. Wouldn’t this be a perfect explain of the mind being what the brain does?(hate that saying) 2. Why would the other half of the brain simply not integrate into the soul of the new body? It’s just a piece, like anything else. Wouldn’t that half change to the new body from neural plasticity and environment? 3. I still find that we have not truly gotten past the issue that we are just our brain if the head transplant was successful and our personality took over the whole body. How does this get resolved? Furthermore, I’ve read quite a bit on this topic for sometime now and there are some major things about the success of a body/head transplant not discussed here One is the fact the an actual head transplant would be extremely difficult and very likely not possible still. Issues like the bodies immune system going to war with the new brain for starters. Even if it were possible to reattach the nerves, I would assume that the body would attack the nerves and start causing Neurological issues like multiple sclerosis And many other very detrimental conditions There has been no long-lived had transplant as well, from my understanding they only live maybe a month or two and they died A couple of years ago they were going to try the first head transplant but the quadriplegic that volunteered for it opted out due to the risks of dying during the procedure and also the fact that incredible amounts of brain damage could occur during the procedure Whether it’s even possible is hard to say But when it comes to the philosophical issues, I don’t think that we have cleared up all the in-house matters when it comes to the song I believe the brain is a receiver and the soul works through it so I’m not exactly sure how this last article really jives with the soul without inferring a very materialistic perspective This is one of those times that I kind of see the materialist have a better explanation which is pseudo-condemning to our perspective And this is something that I would most certainly like to resolve and put it to rest AaronS1978

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