Maybe Those People Who Annoy Can Get A Prosthetic Brain


I was a 2nd year resident in neurological surgery when there was news that a single neuron could link with a single computer wire and messages could travel from the one to the other. Nobody in my doctors’ lounge seemed to care.

Brain In A JarI remember seeking out a psychologist who had a fairly high tech research background, to see if he was anywhere nearly as excited as I was. To say “no” is a gross understatement.

He told me about an idea which long before that had been both funded and forgotten.  The idea had been one of a prosthetic frontal lobe.  Frontal lobe of the brain, among other things, tells people what is “appropriate” socially. The one example I will never forget is the physician who (inappropriately) peed in his pants on rounds, and ended up having a frontal lobe tumor. So the idea was that somebody who had a hunk of frontal lobe excised to get rid of the tumor, or presumably some other kind of illness, could have a teency-tiny computer to hold in their hand that would do some frontal lobe kinds of things that they no longer could.

The attempt to develop this happened on the east coast, presumably sometime after Noah’s flood, and the funding dried up just like that great flood did.

Of course, another possibility is that men do not much care where and when they pee.  I doubt this, since I had a patient in Oklahoma who had purchased a fair amount of real estate in his life and thought it necessary and appropriate to “mark” it in the same way a dog marks his territory.  Yes, it involved peeing in public, but the fellow had no known frontal lobe pathology at the time.

Ah, those Oklahoma men.

That, however, is not  the main deal, which is the computer-human articulation in the nervous system.

Now, I never thought the cerebellum was the most fun — let alone the most complex — part of the brain.  I was lectured about it in medical school by our over-senile and over-sexed dean, who said that it was larger in the female because it was an organ of finesse in motor control, and finesse was the domain of the female, and the whole lecture hall went “Awww….” like it was cute or sweet or sexy.

Let’s simply say here that you notice the cerebellum when it is starting NOT to work so well — more easily for a layperson than most other cerebral dysfunction — No balance, The wobbly drunk, Certain tremblings in the upper limb.

This news about the rat research is humongous to me. I will make no attempt to explain why the blog who picked it up was Raw Story.

To my husband it is like the story about George Washington’s Axe.  You can go to a museum and see the original axe with which George Washington cut down the cherry tree.  Of course, over the years, the handle rotted and wore out so we put on a new one.  And then later the blade rusted and started to disintegrate, so we put on a new one.

But other than that – this is the exact same axe George used to chop down the cherry tree.

With a two-way nervous system computer connection, we basically have a prosthetic organ for a part of the brain, If someone blows their cerebellum, with booze or a tumor or a hereditary illness, maybe — just maybe — it will be possible to put in a new one.

Physical immortality will, in my estimation, come through prosthetic parts (or maybe cloned parts) replacing our organic parts one piece at a time over a period of many years. If you don’t want it for yourself — and I think I do — consider planting a nice computer cerebellum in a cyborg quarterback who will never have to worry about multiple head injuries as he carries that ball, careening but not falling, with perfect balance.  The other team will have to build–and pay for–the android that can beat him.

Come to think of it – why be sexist?  If we have this kind of power, let’s let the ladies share in some of the glory.

When physical competition becomes a little more like intellectual competitions, humans will not have to get hurt.

And that’s the big picture.

Filed under Research by on #

Leave a Comment

Fields marked by an asterisk (*) are required.