Memories Found To Be Preserved During The Cryonics Process

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Memories Found To Be Preserved By Cryonics Process

Researchers have now proven that cryogenically-suspended worms maintain their memories after reanimation.

S ome animals can survive extended periods of actually being frozen.  Understanding and controlling this ability is a key area of researcher for the field of cryonics—in the hope that someday frozen humans who were about to die of disease or accident can be revived and restored.

Animals undergo the process by somehow regulating the way their bodies enter a frozen state, and at the other end of the cycle, controlling the thawing out process.

Until recently it hasn’t been understood whether important higher-level functions, like memory, are preserved in the natural cryonic process. Now, Natasha Vita-More and Daniel Barranco, have proven for the first time that cryogenically-suspended nematode worms keep their memories after reanimation.

Related articles
The researchers first trained the C. Ekegans worms to move to specific areas in an area when they smelled benzaldehyde (a component of almond oil). After learingn this task, the worms were bathed in a glycerol-based cryoprotectant solution and put into to a cryogenic state.

"This is the first evidence of preservation of memory after cryopreservation vitrification or slow freezing."

When the worms were reanimated, they were able to remember the lesson and moved to the correct position in their training area when benzaldehyde was provided.

Two different methods of freezing were tested on the worms: the first effort was based on the traditional way to freeze cells or organs in a low concentration of cryoprotectant and then slowly cool and reanimate the creatures. The second method  involved a more aggressive procedure known as vitrification.

Vitrification uses a higher concentration of cryoprotectant, but does the freezing and thawing rapidly so that ice crystals which can damage cell structures, do not form as readily. Only about a third of the worms that were frozen by the slow method actually survived reanimation, while almost all of those vitrified will survive.

Vita-More and Barranco did find though that worms frozen by either method retained the tested memory functions. They concluded:

Our results show that the mechanisms that regulate odorant imprinting (a form of long-term memory) in young C. elegans have not been modified by either the process of vitrification or by slow freezing in the adult stage. This is the first evidence of preservation of memory after cryopreservation vitrification or slow freezing).


The research is an important step for the study of cryonics, and is an indication that the process currently being undertaken at facilities like Alcor's may one day bear fruit for the people frozen within.

Demonstrating that worm brains can handle top-down freezing by artificial means is an important step towards doing the same for larger organisms, like humans. Additional research may make survivable cryonic suspension a real solution for the current problem of aging and disease.

SOURCE  Extreme Tech

By 33rd SquareEmbed