MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: Will identical clones, given the same set of experiences, behave the same?

Date: Fri Aug 18 05:35:05 2006
Posted By: Mark D. Sullivan, Faculty Physician
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 1151055911.Gb

That is an interesting analogy.  Now with computers vs genetic engineering 
there are some very important differences.  With a computer, each computer 
from a manufacturer is made by the same process in that all the wiring, 
processing chips, basic hardware is made to be identical.  That is why two 
computers (PC's) can run the same software the same way.  It's quality 
control, otherwise you're out of business.  

Genetic engineering is not as precise in that the inner working of a human 
body (and let's look at the human computer...the brain) is an extremely 
intricate system of nerve connections that is based on random events.  We 
all have the basic pattern and type of cells, pathways to make sure we can 
use our senses, move, react, etc.  This is a basic lesson of anatomy.  But 
the exact way in which individual neural connections are formed occurs 
more or less randomly.  Now I will give you that experiences help develop 
this, but in one case a nerve cell will form a synapse with a cell on the 
left vs the right.  And of course that next cell makes a connection with 
another, and so on until a neural pathway is formed.  If this process 
could be controlled, and that would require actual physical manipulation 
of these forming synapses, then your hypothesis could be tested.  However, 
there are way too many variables that you could not account for to test 
this with any validity.  I think that even a clone, who is put through a 
set of experiences like it's progenitor, would come out still different 
enough in personality and perception.  I kind of like the thought that we 
still have that degree of randomness at such a small level to give even a 
clone an individual personality.  I think this is about the best 
medical/scientific answer I can give.  Hope it gives you something to 
think about.

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