Country’s sole brain museum to get a digital makeover soon

The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) has proposed to digitise the only brain museum in the country.  

Published: 22nd July 2017 10:52 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd July 2017 12:21 PM   |  A+A-

Photographs by Pushkar V

BENGALURU: The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) has proposed to digitise the only brain museum in the country.  Virtual display and video modules to go along with its specimens are among the plans for upgrading the museum. 


The museum which at present houses over 500 brain specimens does not have infographics to explain the models on display. Dr B N Gangadhar, director, NIMHANS, said there is a proposal to have a visual display that explains about the models. Further, these would be made interactive so as to attract more visitors. 

The museum at NIMHANS houses
over 500 brain specimens 


With the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) having supported the institute for conducting educative sessions at the museum, they have sought ICMR funding for upgrading as well. 


Dr Anita Mahadevan, associate co-ordinator, Human Brain Tissue Repository, Department of Neuropathology, said there is a plan to digitise the specimens. “It is proposed to be done in line with what is seen abroad. A video with details of the specimen can be added alongside each of the ones mounted,” she said.  


One would be fascinated as there are brains of various sizes, models and also of various species at the museum. Dr Anita explained that these were collected over several decades. “The oldest one we have here dates back to 1975. It is that of a nine-year-old who was a victim of an ox attack. The family consented to an autopsy and the brain was stored,” she recollected. The museum also houses two brains that were from patients who had rare brain development issues -- one with hemistrophy (mounted in 1981) and another one with hemimegalencephaly (1985) where one side of the brain is disproportionately bigger than the other. 

The oldest preserved brain at the Brain
Museum at NIMHANS


Dr S K Shankar, principal co-ordinator of the Human Brain Tissue Repository, said it took the collaborated efforts of staff over the years to build the museum. Brain of a human of various age groups—from a foetus to infant and to an 80-year-old—is on display at the museum. 

Variety 
Specimens of brain affected by worms, head injuries, neuro infections, cancers and tumors are on display at the museum.

Elaborate Procedure
A tedious procedure is followed before the brains are put on display. Following autopsy, the harvested specimen is studied by neuropathologists. It is then left in a formaldehyde solution. 

BRAIN PICKINGS
Museum initially started in a single room housed at the neuropathology department. What began with about 200 samples has now grown into a collection of over 500.
It houses brains of several birds, mammals and humans. Those of a duck, mouse, rat, cat and cow can be seen among others. 

Brain repository also has parts of the brain that are stored at sub zero temperatures and can be accessed by researchers

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