Diagnosis After Death

"When you're dead, you're dead," the medics used to say, but now it turns out we can learn a lot about preventing disease by studying the brains of the deceased.

"Doctors can tell with about 90 percent accuracy whether a patient has Alzheimer's, the most common dementia. But looking through a microscope at brain tissue after death is still the only way to diagnose it with absolute certainty. Perfecting diagnosis is critical in the emerging era of drugs designed for specific types of dementia. But diagnosis is just the beginning. By studying brains from patients such as Bob Moore, scientists hope to figure out how and why the damage occurred -- and learn to prevent it."

From "Probing the Mind for a Cure," Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/26/06.

Ray Kurzweil writes about downloading contents of the brain just before death so as to make a "2.0" copy of the self that can continue existence in a machine body. Probing the newly dead brain for clues to ailments of the living may be a positive first step. But the question remains, will the 2.0 version still be "me?"