Re: Transplant Regenerating Neurons

Anders Sandberg (
01 Jan 1999 13:31:35 +0100

"Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <> writes:

> 1) Will these neurons keep regenerating forever, preventing senility?

I don't think so, they just seem to be given high doses of growth factors. Neural regeneration is likely highly controlled in the brain, and the implanted neurons will become boring, normal neurons (hopefully) when implanted. I also wonder if just simple implantation can cure senility, it often seems to involve widespread loss across the entire brain, relatively hard to fix through simple implantation.

> 2) Why hasn't that occurred as a natural mutation?

Likely becuase there is no evolutionary pressure for regenerating brains (most brain damage in the natural environment is deadly anyway) and a fairly firm pressure against regeneration (upsets old memories, increased cancer risk). Note that the only places where regeneration seems to occur are the olfactory bulb (restore lost olfactory sensors) and the hippocampus (very dynamic place, likely not storing anything for long anyway).

> 3) Could this transform non-infants into Algernons?

Perhaps. I'm not sure if added neurons will benefit normal people much, since all the important stuff is in connectivity. If we can set up some new long-range connections we might see interesting new abilities.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y