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Neuropreservation is cryopreservation of the human brain with the intention of future resuscitation and regrowth of a healthy body around the brain. Usually the brain is left within the head for physical protection, so the whole head is cryopreserved. Neuropreservation is a type of cryonics procedure, and like cryonics is considered highly speculative. A cryonics patient who undergoes neuropreservation is said to be a neuropatient. Recently, the procedure is most often done for the sake of vitrification of the brain (neurovitrification), which is seen by some as a superior method of preservation.
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Cryonics proponents claim that for cryonics to work at all, extremely advanced future technologies will be required, such as mature nanomedicine. It is said these technologies must necessarily be capable of tissue and organ regeneration, so neuropreservation is just as likely (or unlikely) to work as whole body cryopreservation. Neuropreservation is typically less expensive than whole body cryopreservation, and can potentially result in better brain preservation because the process can be optimized for the brain.
The hypothetical future recovery process is said to involve programming cells on the brain to regenerate a new body around the repaired brain inside a fluid life support environment. News media sometimes report that new bodies are expecting from cloning, but most cryonics experts dismiss cloning, claiming that nothing as crude as nuclear transfer or transplants will ever be used in cryonics. They believe the methods used for recovery of neuropatients will be an extension of mainstream medical technologies that will someday be developed to regrow lost limbs and treat severe trauma.
Another, equally speculative technology for the revival of neuropatients, or cryonics patients generally, is mind transfer. Although philosophically more radical, transferring the information content of a cryopreserved brain into an artificial brain may be no more or less feasible than re-growing a biological body, especially to a society with technology capable of reviving cryopreserved brain tissue.
Neuropreservation was first proposed in 1965 by cryonics co-creator Evan Cooper, proposed again in a speculative scientific paper by gerontologist George M. Martin in 1971, and independently proposed yet again in 1974 by Mike Darwin, and Fred and Linda Chamberlain. The Chamberlains were the founders of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. In 1976 Fred’s father became the first of many neuropreservation patients at Alcor.
Prior to the year 2000, neuopreservation was performed by surgical separation of the body from the head (called cephalic isolation or "neuroseparation") at the end of cryoprotectant perfusion performed on the upper body via the ascending aorta. After that year, Alcor began performing the separation before cryoprotectant perfusion, in deep hypothermia, and then using the carotid and vetebral arteries directly for perfusion with cryoprotectants.
As of 2006, Alcor and KrioRus are the only cryonics organizations that offer neuropreservation. Other organizations avoid it because they say it is bad for public relations. Alcor claims there are good technical justifications for neuropreservation, and that they will continue to offer it. Approximately three quarters of the cryonics patients stored at Alcor are neuropatients.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Neuropreservation". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.