X-Message-Number: 11819
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: about how brains work, and why it's important
Date: Wed, 26 May 1999 00:38:02 +1000 (EST)

Hi everyone!

I'm now going to do a terrible thing. I'm going to suggest that several
people posting messages on Cryonet might try out my newsletter,

For almost 10 years now, I have been reporting on what is known about how
brains work. One reason for this is that until very recently very little
of substance was happening in cryobiology, while it was also the "Decade
of the Brain". And just how brains produce consciousness, memory, and all
those other nice things (up to and including what we know about brains
which suffer various kinds of damage). This information remains relevant
to cryonics, since first of all it will be highly relevant to the many
cases --- now ALWAYS the case --- in which someone has received a poor
suspension and we must work out how to revive them. It's even relevant
to efforts to successfully preserve brains: how else are we to work
out that our efforts were successful with animal experiments other than
by using what we know about how brains work. And if you want to claim that
brains are basically the same as computers, it really helps to have some
information about brains available so that you can argue that idea without
handwaving. (It's not enough just to say that we have no other models
anywhere close: that is no more than a statement of ignorance). Nor can
anyone seriously expect to read themselves into some other
(unspecified) form without a lot of familiarity with their current brain
and how it works.

And right now I'm in an odd position. Yes, 21ST CENTURY MEDICINE is coming
up with significant advances in cryopreservation. Yet those advances look
like they will remain unspecified for some time --- hardly something on
which I can report. For that matter, unless we all get together the 
money to support specific research on cryopreservation of brains, we'll
have to put up with current suspension methods for some time into the
future --- and so work on brains remains important.

And maybe if more cryonicists understood the present state of the art
in neurobiology, they might see the merits of more research into brain
preservation. I'd like that a lot, because I'm a cryonicist and prefer
to live even if PERIASTRON must change its direction to some other 
subject relevant to cryonics.

So if you want to discuss these issues, with particular relevance to all
the various questions which have recently come up on Cryonet, I think it
would help to learn the current state of the art in neurobiology. I will
send anyone who asks a free commented bibliography; but even more than
that, you just might find my own newsletter interesting in this regard.
Just send me a short letter containing a check for $3.00 US currency,
or even $3.00, and I'll send you an issue. And DON'T be afraid if it
sometimes seems technical --- just what do you expect if you want to
seriously talk about how brains work.

So, rather than give my own answers to some of the points recently made
on Cryonet, I'm just going to suggest means to learn more so that you 
can argue them with more validity. After all, we know that after revival
we'll probably have to learn a lot. So what's wrong with doing a little
of that now?

			Best and long long life to all,

				Thomas Donaldson

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