Cryonics, Neuroscience

Armand Karow on Isamu Suda's brain cryopreservation experiments

In 2007, cryobiologist Armand M. Karow passed away. Unlike many contemporary cryobiologists, Karow offered cautious support for the objectives of cryonics. In the mid-1960s, Karow served on the Scientific Advisory Council of the Cryonics Societies of America (CSA). He also published a regular column titled “Scientifically Speaking” in Cryonics Reports, a publication by the Cryonics Society of New York (CSNY).

One of these columns, “The Suda Experiment,” contains his comments on   Isamu Suda’s cat brain experiments. Suda perfused whole cat brains with low concentrations of glycerol and recorded electrical brain wave activity (EEG) after storage at high subzero temperatures and rewarming. But as Karow points out, “the generation of EEG’s is not necessarily an indication of organized, coherent activity… The EEG tracings obtained by Suda probably could have been generated even if a large number of the cells were damaged.”

A similar point can be made about studies that demonstrate viability in brain tissue after long periods  (1 hour) of warm ischemia. Although such studies are helpful to persuade critics of cryonics that cryopreservation or warm ischemia do not (instantly) destroy the brain, there is a tendency in cryonics to selectively highlight studies that are “outliers” in their field to make the case for cryonics. A related issue is the scientific meliorism implicit in the view that whatever can be imagined as not contradicting the laws of chemistry and physics will occur, a view of which the scientific, psychological, and social  aspects will be discussed here in more detail in the future.

Armand Karow – The Suda experiment (Cryonics Reports, 1967)

Cryobiologist Brian Wowk on the Suda experiments and cryonics (Immortality Institute Forum, 2006)