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Connecting your brain to someone else's.

  1. Jan 25, 2008 #1
    Let's assume tissue rejection is not an issue. What would happen if you were able to connect neurons from another person's brain to neurons in your own so that they could send and receive signals? What if it was one neuron? 100? 10,000? 1 million? What would that feel like? At what point would you cease being two conscious beings and become one (or would you become three - you, other and the collective)?

    I think the results would be highly dependent on which neurons and how many were connected.

    But what if you connected 10 million neurons from one visual area to neurons in the other visual area? Would you get each person being able to see what the other sees?

    What other odd effects might occur?
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 25, 2008 #2
    I don't think anything interesting would happen. If you took two computers and randomly made electrical connections between different electrical pathways they wouldn't mind-meld or something, they'd probably just stop working. I'm not saying that the human brain is necessarily like a computer, just that randomly monkeying around with a complex system is no more likely to produce something interesting than randomly banging on the keys of a piano is.

    Of course, there is one way for the neurons in two different people's brains to send and receive signals from one another - by those two people communicating.
  4. Jan 25, 2008 #3
    Perhaps, perhaps not. But what if it wasn't random? What if the connections were intentionally made to connect related brain areas to another in meaningful ways?
  5. Jan 25, 2008 #4
    It's interesting to muse about but I don't get the impression that human civilization has sufficient understanding of neurophysiology to do anything other than maybe interconnect sensory inputs.

    I'm a software engineer, not a hardware engineer, but I can tell you pretty certainly that random connections between two computers, or an attempt to create something like a communications port with a bunch of electrical connections, isn't a "perhaps", it wouldn't work without considerable engineering beyond simply making physical connections.

    Here's something I'll grant you: it might be interesting (though highly unethical) to try to develop some sort of contact telepathy between two brains: some way for two people to communicate outside of normal sensory channels. I'm sure that to start you wouldn't be able to get much more than "Yes" or "No" across. Maybe they're doing that sort of thing in the secret prisons where we torture people.
  6. Jan 25, 2008 #5
    Hi Meatbot. I think you raise a some very interesting questions which, although beyond current technology, may actually become real-life issues at some point during the next century or two as stem-cell research marches forward. For instance, if brain tissue were being developed for a Parkinsons or Stroke patient, implantation of neurons may be accompanied by connections with a nerve stimulator, to give the patient or caregiver some control for rehab purposes. Now you are in a realm where one individual could control the movements of another via remote control.

    Another angle on this might be the rare Siamese twin cases where the two subjects are joined at the head, sharing parts of each other's brains. Maybe there are case studies out there of what these twins experienced?
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