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Humans could download brains on to a computer and live forever

Humans could download their brain onto a computer and live forever inside a machine, a Cambridge neuroscientist has claimed.

Dr Hannah Critchlow said that if a computer could be built to recreate the 100 trillion connections in the brain that it would be possible to exist inside a programme.

Dr Critchlow, who spoke at the Hay Festival on ‘busting brain myths,’ said that although the brain was enormously complex, it worked like a large circuit board and scientists were beginning to understand the function of each part.

Asked if it would be possible one day to download consciousness onto a machine, she said: “If you had a computer that could make those 100 trillion circuit connections, then that circuit is what makes us us, and so, yes, it would be possible.

“People could probably live inside a machine. Potentially, I think it is definitely a possibility.”

Dr Critchlow also said it was a myth that humans only used 10 per cent of their brains, and said that the fallacy had been fostered by Albert Einstein who said he had discovered the Theory of Relativity because his brain was working at a higher level than most people’s.

The case of American railroad foreman Phineas Gage also helped perpetuate the myth after a blasting accident left a metal pole embedded deeply in his skull.

The pole at first appeared to have done little damage, with Gage able to carry on life much as usual and allowing him to come to the conclusion that large parts of the brain were not needed.

Dr Critchlow said that, contrary to popular belief, the brain was actually ‘ticking-over’ all the time but only ramped up power to certain areas when they were needed to stop humans ‘blowing a fuse.’

“After a year or so it became clear that Phineas Gage has suffered serious damage, but by then this myth had gained momentum, “ she said.

“The brain weight is about 1.5 kg, and two per cent of the body and yet it is greed and takes about 20 per cent of all energy consumption.

“We are about 100 billion nerve cells and the most complicated circuit board you could image; those resources use electricity.

“If you were using all of you brain all of the time you would effectively blow a fuse. Your brain has evolved to do a low level ticking-over.

“And when you want to do a particular thing it will ramp up to power that. All of the brain is in a low gear all of the time, even when you’re asleep. MRS scans have also shown that blood and oxygen increase in those parts of the brain at the same time.”

However, Dr Critchlow said there was some evidence to show that the myth that left-handed people were really more creative was actually true.

Recent studies have shown that stimulating the right hemisphere of the brain (which is more active in left-handed people and is linked to creativity) improves creative thought.

It is possible to now buy on the Internet hats which include electrodes to stimulate the area for around £50.

“Who knows, in the future we might see schoolchildren wearing them in art classes,” she said.


Editor’s note: In this reposted version, we have corrected numerous spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors.

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