12.04.2019 change 12.04.2019

Scientist: Organ replacement will allow people to achieve longevity

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

In the future it will be possible to replace almost all human organs, which will contribute to our longevity. The first experiments involving the replacement of brain fragments are already being conducted, says cognitive scientists Prof. Włodzisław Duch.

Achieving immortality is the eternal dream of man. The Holy Grail was believed to have such power. For centuries, alchemists searched for a recipe for a philosopher`s stone, a legendary substance with similar properties.

"Immortality is a kind of trap, but we can imagine step by step that it is really possible to replace organs and remain a biological being for a very long time" - the researcher says. He mentions another possible option: artificial organ replacements.

"Last year, scientists managed to replace a fragment of the deep structure in the brain, which is located in the hippocampus - the part of the brain responsible for memory consolidation" - says Prof. Włodzisław Duch, cognitive scientists from the Neurocognitive Laboratory of the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. This procedure was used in a person with memory impairment.

"If someone loses the ability to hear, doctors can implant processors that connect directly to the auditory nerve, that is, they send information about sounds directly to the brain. Last year, a patient with memory disorder received a hippocampus (part of the brain) implant - a device that improved that patient`s memory by several dozen percent" - the cognitive scientists says.

The scientist points out that a brain procedure is a very difficult task that carries numerous risks. "But in the long term, I can imagine the replacement of individual parts of the brain with electronic parts while the subject, a human being, retains his or her own consciousness" - he adds.

But should people seek immortality? The scientist has doubts. "Immortality is really a strange concept. To become immortal, we could renew our cells for a very long time. But the memory we have is what we have, so it would mean that we would fall into a closed time loop" - he says.

The cognitive scientists reminds that even among biologists there are different opinions about the possibility of prolonging life. "Some say that reaching the age of 120 is already a lot, and perhaps 150 years would be achievable, but certainly not more. Others argue that perhaps we will be able to launch mechanisms that will endlessly renew our cells" - he adds.

Even if it becomes possible, man will face numerous problems with identity, because with time the body and organs would undergo significant changes.

"For now, a significant leap in life extension is not likely. I can not imagine how electronics could help us in my lifetime" - the professor says. But the researcher recommends caution in estimates. People say that artificial intelligence with cognitive abilities comparable to human abilities is a matter of distant future, while its development barriers continue to be crossed. And the development of artificial intelligence could be closely related to the human aspiration for longevity, the scientist believes.

PAP - Science in Poland, Szymon Zdziebłowski

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