Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Mindshock: Transplanting Memories?

This Channel 4 show was as inconclusive as you'd expect it to be, but also as interesting. It was about heart transplant patients noticing extreme personality or taste changes after their operations - often in line with the personality of their donor. The story of one lady was simply astounding - or, I guess, fake. At first, the changes were minor (she answered 'I'd kill for a beer' when asked at a press conference what she'd most like to do now she's well again and, guess what, she doesn't even like beer) but then she had a dream about a man on a motorcycle called Tim L. Her donor was called Tim L-something, and died in a motorcycle accident.

There were a few psychologists and doctors talking about the heart's 'little brain' and neuron networks, but basically the very idea that memories can be transplanted with the heart is completely rejected by 95% of scientists. All we can say at the moment is, 'more things in heaven and earth' and all that.


SimonHolyHoses said...

Nobody knows what makes us us and there's a great deal of argument to suggest that we're mistaken in taking the approach at all.

Certainly memories are a very dodgy criteria for personal identity in isolation. E.g. I remember being 20 years old. When I was 20 I could remember my 5th birthday. I can't remember my 5th birthday now though. Does that mean I'm the same person I was when I was 20, and I was the same person when I was 20 as I was when I was 5, but I'm not the same person now as I was when I was 5? Is that logical?

It's interesting stuff.

Also I'm in favour of a return to the speculative dogmatic science of medieval post-moorish aristotelianism. It's as good as anything else and is at least traditional.

Anyway, enough of my bluster.

What I really wanted to say is "hello" Anna. Just to let you know that while I don't comment too often I am still visiting and reading regularly.

AnnaWaits said...

"speculative dogmatic science of medieval post-moorish aristotelianism"

That's our phrase of the day, ladies and gentlemen - come down and get your prize! ;) Heehee.

AnnaWaits said...

Sorry, didn't mean to finsih there! Yeah, I know what you mean about memories and personality being aligned so closely... doesn't seem totally right.

And the same goes for me and holyhoses - I don't comment nearly as much as I should, but I am reading :)

rashbre said...

I didnt see the programme but I've heard of this situation before. There's a scientist called Wolfgang Prinz who did some work in this area and commented that (eg) the human gut has a lot of quasi brain cells in it (gut reaction?).

Theres also a school of thought about peptides as memory agents and that many organs will contain peptides and may have some of the residual storage capabilities similar to the brain.

Maybe this duplicates what the programme said...