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Need a way to hold on to your memories forever? One startup is offering a special, but fatal, procedure to help you keep your brain active.
Researchers at Nectome, a medical company founded by MIT graduates, have discovered a way to maintain brain functionality after death with high-tech embalming, a process used to prevent a body from decay.
“Our mission is to preserve your brain well enough to keep all its memories intact: from that great chapter of your favorite book to the feeling of cold winter air, baking an apple pie, or having dinner with your friends and family,” co-founders Robert McIntyre and Michael McCanna wrote on the business’ website.
They will target patients suffering from terminal illnesses. The individuals will be sedated, connected to heart and lung machines, and injected with the embalming chemicals while they are alive.
The procedure is “100 percent fatal,” the founders warned, but the solution “can keep a body intact for hundreds of years, maybe thousands, as a statue of frozen glass.”
The analysts believe their investigations will help future scientists “recreate consciousness” and retrieve information from the brain’s molecular details.
“You can think of what we do as a fancy form of embalming that preserves not just the outer details but the inner details,” McIntyre told MIT Technology Review.
“If the brain is dead, it’s like your computer is off, but that doesn’t mean the information isn’t there,” added Ken Hayworth, a neuroscientist and president of the Brain Preservation Foundation -- the organization that awarded McIntyre for his recent work on preserving the pig brain.
The surgery is not yet available to the public as they are still unsure if the memories will be found in the dead tissues. However, they are inviting prospective customers to join a wait list for a $10,000 deposit, which is fully refundable. So far, 25 people have signed up.
“When a generation of people die, we lose all their collective wisdom. You can transmit knowledge to the next generation, but it’s harder to transmit wisdom, which is learned,” McIntyre said. “That was fine for a while, but we get more powerful every generation. The sheer immense potential of what we can do increases, but the wisdom does not.”