This experiment was published in Nature Magazine: Pig brains kept alive outside body for hours after death. The researchers used a system called BrainEx to revive certain metabolic and physiological functions to a disembodied pig's brain, but they never attempted to restart electrical activity.

Why did they stop short of restarting electrical activity in this pig's brain?

  • $\begingroup$ Read the paper, and presumably they will say. This site is about biological problems, not about mind reading. $\endgroup$ – David May 21 '19 at 18:51
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not asking for anyone to read the researchers' minds. I was simply hoping that someone could provide a science-backed reason why restarting electrical activity in this brain would be inadvisable. I was expecting that some aspect of the brain's physiology made it too challenging and that someone with the appropriate expertise could explain this physiology to me. $\endgroup$ – Patrick May 23 '19 at 3:44

Restarting electrical activity would mean that at least parts of the brain become active again and possibly restoration of almost all cognitive functions. While this would be a tremendous scientific and medical break-through, it would also mean that effectively locked-in syndrome would have been induced for these pig brains. Therefore just attempting to restore electric activity in isolated brains has huge ethical problems and was for this reason probably not allowed (or ever attempted).

Whether or not it should be allowed to test this in pig brains (in order to learn how to adapt the procedure to humans) is a different question (and not one for this SE) - the best way to go about would probably be to restore electric activity not in isolated brains, but with the brains still in animals.

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    $\begingroup$ Is this your hypothesis or are there any references in the field that say that's why it's not done? $\endgroup$ – Cell May 16 '19 at 12:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Cell The authors of the original paper refer to ethical concerns directly as the motivation for their limited approach. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause May 16 '19 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Bryan Krause I see thanks. $\endgroup$ – Cell May 16 '19 at 23:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Cell This article explains the ethical implications more extensively: nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01168-9 $\endgroup$ – Patrick May 20 '19 at 18:18

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