The human brain is a fascinating organ, and we have only scratched the surface with our knowledge of its complexity. Weighing just 3 pounds on average, this is the control center of our whole body, the root of all that we see, do and experience.
It’s incredible to consider, really. One small little organ has so much power and influence on our lives. Containing approximately 100 billion neurons responsible for approximately 100 trillion connections, it’s like a large complex computer beyond anything we have ever experienced before. These electrical signals control everything from our memory and data processing to muscle movements and reactions to outside stimuli.
Your brain allows you to recognize a friend on the street, reach for a cold drink, communicate our opinions on a recent news headline and discover a unique problem to a situation that you are currently facing. It empowers our creativity, drives our motivation and allows us to connect with the people. Honestly, good luck naming one activity in this life that doesn’t require its incredible abilities in some way.
While many of us recognize the importance of keeping our brain safe from damage, using hard hats and helmets in various situations in order to avoid any potential trauma, experts advise that most of us are unaware of just how vulnerable and soft the brain actually is.
In this teaching video, neuroanatomist Suzanne Stensaas, Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Utah School of Medicine holds a freshly removed brain in her hands following a recent autopsy. “We are fortunate enough to show you what a normal, unfixed, recently deceased patient’s brain would look like,” she explains.
The reason for the video? Strensaas says that students misunderstand the actual makeup of the human brain. “Students think that the brain is sort of the consistency of a rubber ball, and that’s because in the laboratories and teaching specimens, we have fixed, formalin-fixed brains,” she explains. “However, if you’re a trauma surgeon or a neurosurgeon, you realize that the brain is really very, very soft, and much more vulnerable than the impression you get when you’re looking at the fixed brain.”
The brain in the video, she explains, belonged to a cancer patient who died from cell transplant complications. We can’t help but respect and honor the individual who made the decision to donate their body to science, allowing us all to share in this fascinating and oddly beautiful experience. It’s a clear reminder of just how precious our life is, and how important it is to take the necessary steps to keep our brain healthy and safe in our daily lives.