Thursday, 3 December 2009

Live brain cutting

The world-famous H.M. died last year. He was probably one of the most important patients for the development of the neuroscience of memory formation.

H.M. suffered from intractable epilepsy that has been often—though inconclusively—attributed to a bicycle accident at the age of nine. He suffered from partial seizures for many years, and then several tonic-clonic seizures following his sixteenth birthday. In 1953, H.M. was referred to William Scoville, a surgeon at Hartford Hospital, for treatment. To treat his epilepsia parts most of his hippocampi (among other parts of the temporal lobes) were removed.

As a consequence he suffered from severe anterograde amnesia (not able to form new memories but remembering the older ones). And well, he was cured from his epileptia.

Now here is the catch: a year after his death his brain is being cut up… live!

Jacopo Annese began sectioning H.M.'s brain (slices about 70 microns thick). At this moment they are taking a break for the night (yes, I know, they don’t seem very dedicated to their work), but they will continue around 8AM PST (17.00 our time). He's expected to reach the temporal lobes tonight (where the memory systems reside).

Here's the link to the live video feed

or you can visit the Brain Observatory home site: - and click on the "view video" button in the front page.

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