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Belgium has the biggest brain collection

| September 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

The Duffel Psychiatric Hospital in Belgium has caught the world’s attention. At a time when humans are desperate to cure diseases, halt ageing and understand learning, the Duffel Hospital is of critical importance.

The hospital’s more than 3 000 brains of diseased psychiatric patients had been part of an even larger brain collection started more than 40 years ago by British neuropathologist, John Corsellis. In 2016, the Corsellis collection was rehoused in the Duffel Hospital. Manuel Morrens, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Antwerp, oversees the collection.

The brains are stored in formaldehyde and tucked away in ordinary plastic containers in the basement of the hospital. Some are still completely intact and others have been sliced up. Generally, scientists believe that older brains are the most interesting, because they carry diseases that have not been treated with modern medicines.

By using 21st century methods, researchers can learn what molecular processes have taken place and compare them with healthy brains. “You can really go into which proteins are active during certain phases of an illness,” Morrens says. “This will really contribute to our understanding of what is going on in the brain.”



Category: Spring 2017

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