Ten-second takeaway

A trip to NIMHANS’ {National Institute of Mental Health and Science} brain museum opens your eyes to the fascinating workings of the human brain.

Brain wave

For the past 35 years, NIMHANS’ Neuropathology department has been collecting brain specimens to use them in training their batches of students. Recently though, they have begun showing it off at a one-of-a-kind Brain Museum. Under the charge of Professor S.K. Shankar, 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 educative tour.

Mind boggle

It all starts off in a tiny classroom adjoining the museum. Professor Shankar or members of his team first bring in an all too real skull. Next comes a real specimen of the human brain {that you can touch and feel}. Once you are done exclaiming that it feels a lot like hardened paneer {a live brain is way mushier but the specimen has got firmer due to preservation treatments}, your guide will show you the parts of the brain and their functions.

Next, you 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 kingdom, a tiny chicken brain is followed by specimen from a duck, mouse, rat, and a cow. You then move onto fetuses and trace the beginning of brain development in human, including those that tragically fail to develop a brain at all – a condition called anencephaly.

Then comes a (often heartbreaking) line up of  brains that have been riddled with conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Cerebral Palsy. Others are of accident victims, many of whom could have easily been saved if only they had a helmet or a seatbelt on {if this museum can’t convince you to get serious about road safety, nothing can}. And in the end, specimen with neuroinfections 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.

Where: Neurobiology Research Centre, Ground Floor, Room No 002, NIMHANS, Hosur Road

When: One guided tour on Wednesday (2.30-4.30pm), two guided tours on Saturday (10.30am-1pm, 2.30pm-4.30pm). Museum is closed on second Saturdays and on Public Holidays. Please note, that the guided tours are restricted to 35-40 people per tour.

Price: Entry is free

Contact: 080 26563357

Check out their website here.

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