We are conditioned to think that our selves and our precious memories, built over a lifetime, are all dependent on this fragile, perishable body. Most crucial is the brain, because that is where we imagine that we live.
But there are multiple biological examples of somatic cognition, discussed as part of this presentation by Michael Levin. One-celled organisms can learn. Organ transplant patients can take on skills and preferences of the donor. Planaria can be cut into pieces, and the pieces with no brain retain memories. Caterpillars liquefy their brains in the chrysalis on the way to becoming a butterfly, and the caterpillar’s memories are retained in the butterfly.
Is memory biochemical? Does it have an extracorporeal existence, taking up temporary residence in a particular body for a particular lifetime?
The rest of this video is about regeneration, and is equally inspiring in a different way.