A trip to NIMHANS’ (National Institute of Mental Health and Science) brain museum opens your eyes to the fascinating workings of the human brain. For over 35 years, NIMHANS’ Neuropathology department has been collecting brain specimens to use them in training their students. You can marvel at all of them at a one-of-a-kind Brain Museum. Under the charge of Professor S.K. Shankar and Dr.Vani, the department has set out to spread the word about neuroscience, to remove the stigma that’s associated with neuropsychiatric illness, and encourage organ donation through this educational tour.
The tour starts off in a tiny classroom adjoining the museum. The staff of the Neuropathy department will explain the functions of the brain and yes, you can also touch and feel the brain on request. It is hardened due to preservation, so don’t expect it to be squishy. Hop to the actual museum – a big, white room that’s lined with shelves that display transparent cases with all kinds of brains in them. There are over 400 of them.
You start off with the animal brains and then move onto fetuses and trace the beginning of brain development in humans, including those that tragically fail to develop a brain at all – a condition called anencephaly. Then comes a line up of brains that have been riddled with conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Cerebral Palsy. Others are of accident victims and in the end, the specimen with neuro-infections such as Tapeworm eggs affecting your brain or the amoeba that brings death should you inhale it in a dirty, untreated pool. Your tour may end on this sombre note but you’ll leave a whole lot wiser, we are convinced.