Update: Natasha will be presenting this groundbreaking research at the upcoming Alcor Life Extension Conference!
One of the greatest dreams of transhumanism is the idea of cryonics where a person presumed to be dead under current technologies, legally dead, is cryopreserved by a process of vitrification with the eventual goal of later revival and return to a normal life with their memories and personality intact. However, scientific evidence that the cryopreservation process could preserve memory or personal traits was essentially non-existent. Until now.
A recent publication in journal Rejuvenation Research from Humanity+ chair Dr. Natasha Vita-More of the University of Advancing Technology, Technology and Mr. Daniel Barranco of the University of Seville, CryoBioTech Engineering School, Seville, Spain has demonstrated that some long term memories can indeed be preserved in an animal model, the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans). This is certainly going to be one of the foundational papers demonstrating that the science of cryopreservation is real. I heard about this work a few months ago but wasn’t permitted to say anything before publication.
I have been sitting on my hands wanting to start writing about this important result.
Can memory be retained after cryopreservation? Our research has attempted to answer this long-standing question by using the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), a well-known model organism for biological research that has generated revolutionary findings but has not been tested for memory retention after cryopreservation. Our study’s goal was to test C. elegans’ memory recall after vitrification and reviving. Using a method of sensory imprinting in the young C. elegans we established that learning acquired through olfactory cues shapes the animal’s behavior and the learning is retained at the adult stage after vitrification. Our research method included olfactory imprinting with the chemical benzaldehyde (C6H5CHO) for phase-sense olfactory imprinting at the L1 stage, the fast cooling SafeSpeed method for vitrification at the L2 stage, reviving, and a chemotaxis assay for testing memory retention of learning at the adult stage. Our results in testing memory retention after cryopreservation show that the mechanisms that regulate the odorant imprinting (a form of long-term memory) in C. elegans have not been modified by the process of vitrification or by slow freezing.
Dr. Natasha Vita-More and Mr. Daniel Barranco. Rejuvenation Research. -Not available-, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/rej.2014.1636.
Animated Worm image: