The idea of being able to completely transfer your mind from one brain to another sounds like something straight out of science fiction. In fact, there are a couple of major movies that have broached the subject. Movies like The 6th Day from 2000, and more recently Selfless from 2015, both deal with the idea of being able to record and transfer your consciousness from one body to another.
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For starters, let’s talk about what our consciousness really is. Our current mental state is nothing but a series of memories, in essence. We remember experiences, emotions, and reactions that makes up who we are in our brains. So, in theory, to move our consciousness from one body to another, all one would have to do is record all of the memories from one brain and upload them to another. Is that even possible?
In short: yes. Memories are chains of neurons that, when stimulated, all fire at the same time. For instance, the smell of fresh cut grass in a specific group of neurons that fire simultaneously, and the feel of touching leather is a completely different group of neurons. Scientists have shown that if you stimulate the brain with electricity, you can trigger certain, specific memories. The theory is that if all the neurons for a specific memory could be isolated, they could be recorded.
So, that would get you one memory, what about all of them? Scientist believe that if you created a map of all of the neurons in the brain, or a “connectome”, you could record all of the memories in a brain. So far, researchers have gone as far as to record dreams based on these neurological maps, so the idea is feasible. The question becomes how to upload those memories to another brain.
Read: Memory-Boosting Brain Implant May Become a Reality
Check out this video from AsapSCIENCE that goes into more detail on the likelihood of a technology existing that could actually record our consciousness and transfer it. It’s extremely interesting to know how realistic scenarios like the one in Selfless really are.