Reading about the wiring of the brain made me think about a lot of questions, since the book used numerous animal study examples. Why do we do so many tests on animals? Do we really need to test all these things? Is this information relevant, important or useful? What do we do with these results other than publish them in books and articles? Why would researchers want to give frogs upside down eyes or make kittens blind to try and figure out a tiny bit of information about eyes? Wouldn’t it be more useful to study aborted foetuses? That way we could see what the development of features is like in actual humans. Though I don’t think that is allowed, even though the use of stem cells is.
I found the use of stem cells in Parkinson’s disease fascinating. I didn’t realise we were at that point in stem cell research. My understanding of the field was limited to the hormones and signals necessary to induce stem cells to differentiate to specific cells, and how tricky and time consuming that process is. Does the brain successfully differentiate the inserted stem cells into useful cells?
The animal study line of questioning made me think of the people who dedicate their corpses to scientific research. What about cases of infant mortality? Can the bodies of deceased infants be used for science? Older humans can dedicate their corpses to science, why not other ages? Would we maybe clone humans someday and use those clones for human testing? Is that an ethical possibility? Mostly it boils down to why are we conducting some of these tests. Is it just human curiosity to understand how we came to be, or can this information be utilised in treatments?