From time to time, we hear about patients who are technically alive but are considered brain dead. Given that the brain pretty much controls our entire body, there’s not much that can be done, or at least that’s what we used to think until researchers at Yale University have managed to restore some function to the brains of dead pigs, according to a study published in Nature.


Now before you get too excited at the idea of being able to restore brain function to patients who are classified as brain dead, the researchers caution that what they have achieved is not the restoration of a living brain that’s associated with consciousness or awareness, but rather a brain that was dead but is now showing signs of cellular activity.

This is also not necessarily about reviving brain dead patients, but rather it could be used to study brain diseases or injuries to the brain. This is because due to the method used by the researchers, they found that by hooking up key blood vessels to the brain with a specially formulated chemical cocktail, the end result was a brain that look very different from a brain that was left alone to deteriorate.

There were some ethical concerns, such as what would happen had these brains showed signs of consciousness. According to Stephen Latham, a Yale bioethicist who was part of the team, “It was something that the researchers were actively worried about, and the reason is that they didn’t want to do an experiment that raises the ethical questions that would be raised if consciousness were being evoked in this brain without first getting some kind of serious ethical guidance.”

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