Start-up plans to embalm brains for future use

Signal of change / Start-up plans to embalm brains for future use

By Shola Powell / 21 Mar 2018

Nectome, a start-up in California, is creating a procedure to preserve the brain with the idea that it will someday be scanned and turned into a computer simulation. The procedure requires a fresh brain to work and so the company plans to connect terminally ill people to a heart-lung machine while pumping embalming chemicals to the brain.

Although done under general anaesthesia, the procedure is lethal but the company believes it will be legal under California’s End of Life Option Act, which permits doctor-assisted suicide for terminal patients. This storage service may not be ready for sale for several years and there is still little evidence that memories can be found in dead tissue, however there is hope that information present in the brain’s anatomical layout and molecular details can be retrieved. There are currently 25 people on the waitlist.

So what?

Should preservation be successful and the right technology be invented in the future, collective knowledge could be transmitted across generations.

But what are the downsides? Some criticise this procedure for being inaccessible across socioeconomic groups: will we only preserve the mindsets of the rich? 


What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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