In celebration of Brain Awareness Week, here’re pictures from the Brain Tumor Registry at the Harvey Cushing Center!
Harvey Cushing (Yale class of 1891, Sterling Professor of Medicine in Neurology) was an obsessive cataloger, and the Cushing Brain Tumor Registry, is an immense archive of over 2,200 case studies which includes whole human brain and tumor specimens, microscopic slides, journal notes, and 15,000 photographic negatives dating from the late 1800s to 1936.
The Registry is a unique resource that documents the history of neurological medicine from its beginning.
A new brain imaging technique called CLARITY allows neural structures to be reconstructed in three dimensions better than ever before. It does so by turning the brain “transparent”.
Truly understanding the inner workings of the brain means studying not only how individual neurons function, but also how they are wired together. Even with techniques like the beautiful “brainbow”, untangling spaghetti-like long-range connections has proven difficult.
Stanford University neuroscientists have taken a step in that direction with their new CLARITY method. Neurons and other cells are normally labeled by sticking fluorescent tags on various proteins and other molecules that a researcher wants to study. That way we can literally see where and how they function. But looking into a three-dimensional brain is like peering into murky water: the fatty cell membranes and neuron sheaths just get in the way.
The Stanford researchers immobilized these mouse brains in a gel, then washed away all the murky muck. This left all the connections and proteins in their right place, free to be labeled in a clear block of brain Jell-O.
Human hippocampus stained with a method pioneered by Italian physician Camillo Gogli in 1873.
Golgi discovered a chemical reaction that allowed him to examine nervous tissue in much greater detail than ever before. For some reason, hardening a piece of brain in potassium dichromate, and subsequently dousing it with silver nitrate, dyed only a few cell bodies and their respective projections in the tissue sample, revealing their complete structures and exact arrangement within the unstained tissue. If the reaction had stained all the neurons in a sample, Golgi would have been left with an unfathomable black blotch, as though someone had spilled a bottle of ink. Instead, his technique yielded neat black silhouettes against a translucent yellow background.