We recently read a wild Wired piece about a neurosurgeon named Robert White, who spent decades performing head transplants on animals, hoping the procedure could one day be used to give human brains new bodies.
Yes, you read that right: he was looking to give HUMAN brains new bodies.
The reason White was interested in this work: he felt that saving people's brains by giving them new bodies would mean saving the soul ... thus proving there was a soul.
Over the course of his career in the 1960s-1970s, White performed the surgery hundreds of times on mice, dogs, and monkeys — but he never ended up doing it on a human.
One of the biggest obstacles to White's goal? None of the animals who survived his operations could move their bodies (they ended up alive, but paralyzed). But even if his surgeries were successful, his (many) critics pointed out that just because we CAN do this kind of surgery doesn't mean we SHOULD.
Reading about White's work got us thinking…
? If your head (and brain) were attached to another body, would you still be you? Or would you be considered a new person?
? Studies have shown that biological factors (such as gut bacteria) may affect how people think, feel, and act. If a human head was introduced to an entirely new microbiome (via a new body), would that affect how this person behaves, and ultimately change their personality?
? What makes you ... “you”?
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