- Isolated brain
Isolated brain refers to keeping a
brainalive in-vitro. This is done either by perfusionby a blood substitute, often an oxygenated solution of various salts, or by submerging the brain in oxygenated artificial cerebrospinal fluid(Bohlen, Halbach). It is the biological counterpart of brain in a vat. A related concept, attaching the brain or head to the circulatory systemof another organism, is called a head transplant. An isolated brain however is more typically attached to an artificial perfusion device rather than a biological body.
The brains of many different organisms have been kept alive in-vitro for hours, or in some cases days. The central nervous system of
invertebrateanimals is often easily maintained as they need less oxygen and to a larger extent get their oxygen from CSF, for this reason the brains are more easily maintained without perfusion (Luksch, Walkowiak). Mammalian brains on the other hand have a much lesser degree of survival without perfusion and an artificial blood perfusate is usually used.
Most research on isolating mammalian brains has been done on
*1812 - Julien Jean César Le Gallois (a.k.a. Legallois) put forth the original idea for resuscitating decapitated heads through the use of blood transfusion. [ [http://scholar.google.com/scholar?num=30&hl=en&safe=off&q=(%22Le%20Gallois%22%20OR%20Legallois)%201812&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=ws Google Scholar:("Le Gallois" OR Legallois) 1812] ]
*1836 - Cooper showed in rabbits that compression of the carotid and vertebral arteries leads to death of an animal; such deaths can be prevented if the circulation of oxygenated blood to the brain is rapidly restored.
*1857 - Brown-Sequard decapitated a dog, waited ten minutes, attached four rubber tubes to the arterial trunks of the head, and injected blood containing oxygen by means of a syringe. Two or three minutes later voluntary movements of the eyes and muscles of the muzzle resumed. After cessation of oxygenated blood transfusion movements stopped.
*1887 - Laborde made what appears to be first recorded attempt to revive the heads of executed criminals by connecting the carotid artery of the severed human head to the carotid artery of a large dog. According to Laborde's account, in isolated experiments a partial restoration of brain function was attained.
*1912 - Heymans maintained life in an isolated dog's head by connecting the
carotid arteryand jugular veinof the severed head to the carotid artery and jugular vein of another dog. Partial functioning in the severed head was maintained for a few hours.
*1928 - Bryukhonenko and Cechulin showed life could be maintained in the severed head of a dog by connecting the carotid artery and jugular vein to an artificial circulation machine.
Robert J. Whiteisolated the brain from one monkey and attached it to the circulatory system of another animal.
Isolated brains in fiction
The concept of a brain in a jar is a common theme in science fiction. In the animated series "
Futurama", numerous technological advances have been made by the 31st century. The ability to keep heads alive in jars was invented by Ron Popeil(who has a guest cameo in " A Big Piece of Garbage"), and has resulted in many political figures and celebrities being active; this became the writers' excuse to feature and poke fun at celebrities in the show.
Mi-goaliens in the in Cthulhu Mythoscan transport humans from Earth to Pluto (and beyond) and back again by removing the subject's brainand placing it into a "brain cylinder", which can be attached to external devices to allow it to see, hear, and speak.
Brain in a vat in philosophy
philosophy, the brain in a vat is any of a variety of thought experiments intended to draw out certain features of our ideas about knowledge, reality, truth, mind, and meaning. A contemporary version of the argument originally given by Descartesin "Meditations on First Philosophy" (i.e., that he could not trust his perceptions on the grounds that an evil demonmight, conceivably, be controlling his every experience), the "brain in a vat" is the idea that a brain can be fooled into anything when fed appropriate stimuli.
The inherently philosophical idea has also became a staple of many
science fictionstories, with many such stories involving a mad scientistwho might remove a person's brainfrom the body, suspend it in a vat of life-sustaining liquid, and connect its neuronsby wires to a supercomputer which would provide it with electrical impulses identical to those the brain normally receives. According to such science fiction stories, the computer would then be simulating a virtual reality(including appropriate responses to the brain's own output) and the person with the "disembodied" brain would continue to have perfectly normal conscious experiences without these being related to objects or events in the real world.
Growing an isolated brain
An isolated biological brain, grown from cultured neurons which were originally separated, has been developed as the neurological entity subsequently embodied within a robot body by
Kevin Warwickand his team. The brain receives input from sensors on the robot body and the resultant output from the brain provides the robot's only motor signals. The biological brain is the only brain of the robot [ [http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-78317-6_3] Xydas, D.,Norcott, D.,Warwick, K.,Whalley, B.,Nasuto, S.,Becerra, V.,Hammond, M.,Downes, J.and Marshall, S.,"Architecture for Neuronal Cell Control of a Mobile Robot", European Robotics Symposium 2008, Prague, March 2008, Springer.] .
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