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IPFS News Link • Science, Medicine and Technology

Can Biotechnology Control Human Behavior?

•, By Guy Hatchard

The journal Transplantology has published a paper entitled "Personality Changes Associated with Organ Transplants," which documents the experiences of individuals who received a range of donated organs including hearts, kidneys, liver, and lungs.

It is well known that heart transplant recipients can experience consequent personality changes. Notably, this study shows that the same is true for other types of organ transplants. Here is a summary of the range of changes observed in the 47 study subjects broken down by heart transplant patients versus other organ recipients.

In all, 87% of subjects experienced marked unusual changes that challenged their behavior, sense of identity, and personal preferences. First-person reports and evidence from donor families confirm that some of these effects involve the transfer of personality traits such as food or behavioral preferences from the donor to the organ recipient. For example, an avid meat eater might become a vegetarian who cannot face meat on their plate.

This is an unexpected result that challenges conventional ideas. This study points to the distributed location of memory throughout physiology and its close association with a variety of organ systems. It amply illustrates how little the life sciences understand about the interface between consciousness and matter.

Prior speculations about the origins of these effects had centered around three possible mechanisms—psychological imprinting, cellular biochemistry, and electromagnetic fields. The study results clearly point to the importance of biochemical mechanisms.