Let’s putting on our “thinking caps”….er, extra brains, get our geek on, and have some fun imagining where stem cell technology may lead us in the coming century.
Unhappy with the one brain you have?
Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a 2nd one too?
A new one?
Researchers have grown mini brain-like structures from stem cells. We now call these brain organoids or cerebral organoids.
Maybe some day could they grow actual full human brains?
There are many hurdles in the way, but for the moment, let’s assume that several decades down the road that we each could have the chance to have a 2nd brain.
We’ll also assume that we could hook up our 2nd brains into a coherent network with our existing brains.
What would you do with your new supplemental brain?
Several ideas come to mind for me.
The first thing that occurs to me is that my 2nd brain could be used as an additional memory source. In that sense, perhaps it could help me to not forget things.
Thinking a bit grander along those same kind of lines, maybe my new 2nd brain could help me learn a bunch of new languages.
Another idea is that the 2nd brain could help with multitasking. We live in a crazy busy, multitasking world that sometimes seems to push our one brain to the limit and beyond. A second brain might sure help with that.
Also along the multitasking lines, ever have that experience where your partner or a friend is so focused on something that you get the feeling they are not 100% listening to you? Ever been that hyper-focused person yourself? With two brains you could focus on one thing such as a YouTube video, while also listening to someone who is talking to you.
A second brain might allow us to in essence never be 100% asleep either. While one of our two brains slept the other could be awake working on stuff. Then they would swap so that the first brain could sleep.
What else can you imagine doing with a 2nd brain?
Of course having two brains is something we kind of already have. We have left and right hemispheres to our brains that are connected by a structure called the corpus callosum.
Keeping these two halves of our brain working together is crucial to our being functional human beings. So, having yet another completely separate brain could make things, shall we say, complicated. What if our new 2nd brain, as the expression goes, has “a mind of its own”? That could lead to some interesting arguments, eh?
In pop culture, the idea of having two brains has already been explored, mostly with negative albeit humorous results. There is Steve Martin’s The Man With Two Brains (image at top of blog post from Wiki).
In the kid’s TV show WordGirl, one of the bumbling villains is Dr. Two Brains (see image above from Wiki). Of course, Dr. Two Brains’ second brain is that of a mouse named Squeaky. Going back quite a few more years, there was another animated show called Pinky and the Brain that also comes to mind when thinking about Dr. Two Brains.
Some day we may have the chance to have a 2nd brain and it is fun to think about what that would be like.