Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Stanley Cup of Neuroscience

The brain of famous amnesic patient H.M. is being sectioned right now!

Watch it live at The Brain Observatory.

They are currently cutting the frontal lobe.

UPDATE (Dec. 3, 1:40PM): They've entered the temporal lobes.

UPDATE (Dec. 4, 1:35PM): Primary visual cortex has surfaced. The end is in sight!

UPDATE (Dec. 4, 11:11PM): They're almost finished!

Below is an MRI of H.M.'s brain when he was still alive.

Figure 1 (Corkin, 2002). Multiplanar views of 18 averaged T1-weighted MRI volumes showing preserved structures in H.M.’s MTL. This magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan was obtained on 15 December 1998. The images are based on data averaged over 18 runs; images were motion corrected using the first scan (out of the 18 axials) as a reference. The asterisk marks the intersection of the three viewing planes, just caudal to the left medial temporal lobe (MTL) resection, seen best in the transaxial view. Top left, sagittal view; bottom left, coronal view; bottom right, transaxial view; top right, surface rendering showing locations of transaxial and coronal planes. Abbreviations: CS, collateral sulcus; EC, entorhinal cortex; H, hippocampus; L, left; PH, parahippocampal gyrus; R, right.

Coda (from Corkin, 2002):

H.M. is now 75 years old. His mobility is markedly reduced because of osteoporosis, another side effect of phenytoin (Dilantin). Although he is in relatively good health, plans are in place for the post-mortem examination of his brain when he dies. He and his court-appointed conservator have both signed his brain donation form, ensuring that the final chapter in his lifelong contribution to science will include a precise description of his brain and documentation of his lesion. His wish to help other people will have been fulfilled. Sadly, however, he will remain unaware of his fame and of the impact that his participation in research has had on scientific and medical communities internationally.

An impact he could never appreciate: Henry G. Molaison died a year ago today on Dec. 2, 2008 at the age of 82.

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At December 03, 2009 8:01 PM, Blogger Doc said...

Hi neurocritic. Im a med student in maryland doing a presentation on huntington's. I found the video you had on your website from november of '08 of a neuro exam with a patient and was wondering if you could send it to me? or a location at which I can download it? my email is thanks for your time and keep up the good work.


At December 03, 2009 9:48 PM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

Hi david, I sent you the info. Good luck on your presentation.

At December 04, 2009 11:54 AM, Anonymous Noah Gray said...

I distinctly remember you telling me that you thought the slicing was the "Super Bowl" of neuroscience. It is intriguing that you have demoted it...

At December 04, 2009 12:25 PM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

Well, I guess it depends on your perspective whether you consider it a demotion or not (i.e., it's not if you're Canadian). At any rate, I found the slow-moving blade slicing H.M.'s brain, embedded in a block of dry ice, to be oddly mesmerizing, like watching a Zamboni at a hockey rink.


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