Learning to reanimate the dead human brain was one of the greatest tasks of science of all time, which has been played up more than once in movies and described in books. A series of successful experiments in the USA with the brain of pigs was held today, which opened up new possibilities. But now scientists are faced with an ethical dilemma.
In theory, there is nothing that would prevent a scientist from creating a perfusion machine that can animate the human brain, said physiologist Nenad Sestan in an interview with The New York Times. Together with a team of specialists from Yale University (USA), a professor of neuroscience and genetics for the first time succeeded in restoring activity to the hemispheres extracted from the head of a pig.
Anatomically, the brain of pigs and Homo Sapiens is very similar. And the technology created by Sestan is, in his words, “open source”. It is only necessary to prove that after repeating the experiment with blood perfusion in the human brain post mortem no electrical activity occurs that would include a certain cognitive level.
During laboratory tests at Yale University, the electrical activity of the brain of a pig that underwent perfusion after death, recorded using encephalograms, reached a bispectral index of 10 on a scale from 1 to 100 (which is usually used by anesthesiologists). This level corresponds to a deep coma, but recent studies have shown that patients in coma can actually communicate.
According to Sestan, it is not yet known which scenario would have been worse for the partially revived brain, since it would end up in a “feverish nightmare”, constantly reliving the moment of his death and what he felt before her. “No one will hear you bursting inside with a scream,” he added.
To avoid this nightmare in the brain of animals, the scientists perfused channel blockers, which limited the access of blood to the vessels feeding the hemispheres, and thus reduced brain activity. In any case, the researcher expressed doubts that after this procedure, the brain can regain its consciousness.
After successful experiments, experts at Yale University received many suggestions from ordinary citizens who offered themselves as brain donors in case of early death.
Some directly complain that there are those who oppose the resuscitation of the neural conscience. “Progress cannot and should not slow down,” said one of the supporters of the study.
Nevertheless, Stephen Latham, director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics at Yale University, believes that if there is even the slightest opportunity for consciousness to return to the brain, then further experiments should be stopped.
According to Professor Stanford Hank Greeley, we live in times of rapid scientific advances. Therefore, there is no doubt that with respect to experiments on people there will appear a person with not such high moral principles as Sestan.
“Someone will want to send a dead human brain to perfusion, and it is likely that this will not be for research purposes at all”, – he concluded.