If you have ever seen a human brain, in person or on video, chances are that it was after the brain had been fixed in formaldehyde. And while formaldehyde is necessary to preserve the specimen, it also makes it much more rigid, and gives no indication of just how pliable -and fragile- the brain is in its natural state. In this teaching video from the University of Utah, Suzanne Stensaas, Ph.D., Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy demonstrates the properties and anatomy of an unfixed brain.
From the host site: “WARNING: The video contains graphic images, a human brain from a recent autopsy. Background noise is unrelated to this brain or the deceased. There are two purposes for this video: 1) to stress the vulnerability of the brain to highlight the importance of wearing helmets, seat belts, and taking care of this very precious tissue, and 2) to use as a teaching aid for students who only have access to fixed tissue, models, and pictures.”
It’s a straightforward but fascinating presentation – with the unexpected side effect, in seeing this brain so soon after death, of the inescapable realization that a very short time before this video was shot, this mass of tissue, collapsing under its own weight, held a lifetime of memories and emotions. A person, in fact.