How Close Are We to Downloading the Human Brain?

Downloading your brain may seem like science fiction, but some neuroscientists think it's not only possible, but that we’ve already started down a path to one day make it a reality. So, how close are we to downloading a human brain?

Someday our bodies are going to break down and we’ll die. Our brain will decay and disappear forever. But, what if it didn’t have to? Right now there are scientists around the world working on technology that could one day take your brain, and possibly your consciousness, and upload it onto a computer. This would be a game changer in neuroscience and some believe could lead to immortality. So, how close are we to downloading our brains?

We spoke to Dr. Kenneth Hayworth, President of the Brian Preservation Foundation. "There's on the order of 100 billion neurons in a human brain and each of those neurons has tens of thousands of connections. You are looking at hundreds of trillions of those synaptic connections, each of which have been tuned by your life's experience," says Dr. Hayworth. 

In order to download your brain, each one of those trillions of connections would have to be precisely scanned, mapped and digitally reconstructed on a computer as an emulated brain. The idea would be, that this simulation would not only behave like a biological brain, but could retain the thoughts and memories of the person whose brain was scanned.

Now, all this is great to think about and makes for interesting dinner conversation, but we have yet to scan a complete human brain let alone test the theory of consciousness. That’s not to say some progress hasn’t been made though. There are projects all over the world working on scanning and simulating brains in the name of healthcare and medicine. This is more about unlocking mysteries of our brain and less about unlocking the key to immortality.