Pig brains partially revived hours after death

Science
Society
(Jordan Mantha) #1

I find it hard to believe that I’m the first to this, did I miss something?

The original article is here:

http://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1099-1

A more accessible (in multiple ways) version is here:

There are some very interesting bioethical, mind vs brain, what is life? type questions that could be extended from this.

I’ve been interested in this kind of thing since teaching a forensic chemistry course. The idea that death, biochemically, is a bit vague is very interesting. We have to “declare” a death because it’s more of a transition than a singular event, from a biochemical standpoint.

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#2

Oh, yeah, I was about to post this couple of days ago but it slipped my mind. Ooops.

#3

Oh, and yeah, if I remember correctly (and keep in mind, I’ve only read bbc article) while they did return some (very minor) function to the brain, not enough for the pig to be truly ‘alive’.

Thus the reason you’re not hearing many ethicists talkin’ about this.

(Jordan Mantha) #4

@Djordje, I think there was a bit of stir (although it’s always a bit hard to separate out the hype). See this section of the Nat Geo article:

The team took steps to ensure that the brains would not “wake up” in any way, let alone have awareness of the procedure’s trauma. Though none of the brains in the experiment showed any sign of awareness, researchers stood at the ready to administer anesthesia and lower the brains’ temperatures, just in case. What’s more, the team added compounds in the solution to block neural activity, which served the extra goal of resting the brains’ cells to give them better odds of healing.

“It was in fact never a goal—and even sort of the opposite of a goal—of the research to have consciousness restored,” says study coauthor Stephen Latham, director of the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics.

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#5

I’m by no means an expert (in neither science nor philosophy of ethics) , but I would think, and hope, that this would be a standard procedure in experiments like this one.

But as I said, I’m no expert.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #6

I agree. Our notions of where to draw the line, moreover change as medical technology advances.

(Dale Cutler) #7

Shall we talk about fetal pain during an abortion. (In broad brush strokes, we get the kind of society we deserve.)

(Dan Eastwood) #8

Just try to relax, mister Donovan, we are almost ready to begin the procedure.

1 Like