• Question: if scientist ever made a succsessful brain transplant, would the person with the new brain walk around with every thought and every memory the new brain has and that person with the brain becomes the person, there for not the same person before the transplant????

    Asked by lozzapotter2011 to Amelia, Jim, Liz on 23 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Amelia Markey

      Amelia Markey answered on 23 Jun 2011:

      Lol very interesting question!

      I suppose we will never know until someone has managed to do it!

      This is quite a philosophical question about what makes you who you are, Is it the brain and genetics you are born with or is it your experiences?

      The way the brain works to make personalities/intelligence etc is not very well understood but a lot of people are very interested in this area of research.

      If you’re interested in this and like a good laugh you should watch a film by Steve Martin called “The man with two brains”. It’s a brilliant film!!!! 🙂

    • Photo: Jim Caryl

      Jim Caryl answered on 23 Jun 2011:

      As Amelia says, we can’t know until someone tries it. This is one of the aspects of science, the need to perform experiments. Whilst we can discuss, to a certain extent, what we would expect to see – such discussion is just speculation.

      Whole head transplants have been performed on dogs and monkeys. I find such experiments a little distasteful, but they were partially successful. A new brain on a different body. Whilst the brains were supplied with blood from the body for a while, they had no control of the bodies, in the same way that a human with a severe neck injury loses control of their body – the nerves of the spine are very sensitive, and one would argue that severing them at the position they join the brain, and then rejoining them within another head is going to be a little traumatic.

      Largely it comes down to an ethical debate. Even if we could, *should* we? I don’t think so, but what do you think?