Re: The Dividing Neuron

Anders Sandberg (
Tue, 13 Aug 1996 13:14:51 +0200 (MET DST)

On Mon, 12 Aug 1996, Chris Hind wrote:

> Could one be able to increase his/her intelligence with the use of a created
> neuron cell that would divide to make the individual increasingly more
> intelligent? It's growth could be speeded up or slowed down by chemicals
> taken as food supplements. Or with this cell you could have it create new
> neurons slowly as to keep up with the degenerative effects of age on the mind.

Neurons do not divide in adult animals, but it is possible to create
undifferentiated dividing neuroblasts, and I have seen references to a
kind of thermo-sensitive immortalized neuroblasts in mice that begin to
differentiate when placed inside the body, possibly helping to heal brain
damage. I'm a bit nervous about placing such cells in my head, since they
still have the potential to develop into neuromas, but I think this can be

The question is if this is an useful intelligence amplification method.
The number of neurons in a brain doesn't correlate to its intelligence,
it is the way that they are linked together that is important. Just
adding neurons might help replace the degenerative effects of age, but I
doubt it would lead to a drastic increase in intelligence. Still, it
might be interesting to see how learning is affected if neurons are added
to (say) the association cortex.

Personally I think the best use of add-on neurons would be brain-computer
interfaces: the interface consists of specially bred neurons that grow
axons and dendrites from cell bodies on a silicon sensor, possibly guided
by neurotropic chemicals so that they reach the right parts of the brain.
This could even be made self-repairing and self-extending if there were a
way to grow new interface neurons if needed.

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
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