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Old 04-21-2013, 04:58 PM
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Where can I buy a human brain?


Googling seems to be remarkably unhelpful in this endeavor. I remember when my physiological psych professor brought a pickled human brain to class, took it out of the jar, and let everybody handle it. The kids in my class would go totally apeshit over something like this. They would be talking about it for months. So is there any place I can get one?
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Old 04-21-2013, 05:34 PM
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You might find some brains here.
...and permit me to say I am SO glad I'm long past school age - that stuff is yucky to say the least.
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Old 04-21-2013, 05:44 PM
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This company provides real human anatomical specimens, preserved in a plastination process. However, you don't officially buy the specimens, but get them on a 99 year lease.

This company provides unembalmed cadavers and specimens to approved medical research and education providers. Are we talking about a university class, or some other level? When I taught Human Anatomy to non-med majors, we dissected cats but had some preserved human organs such as brains.
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Old 04-21-2013, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Fluffy PickleSniffer View Post
You might find some brains here.
...and permit me to say I am SO glad I'm long past school age - that stuff is yucky to say the least.
Carolina Biological carries sheep brains, but only models of human brains. I presume the OP wants the real deal.
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Old 04-21-2013, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
This company provides real human anatomical specimens, preserved in a plastination process
Plastinated brains would not have the some feel and consistency, which I think a science teacher would want for the students.
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Old 04-21-2013, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by echo7tango View Post
Plastinated brains would not have the some feel and consistency, which I think a science teacher would want for the students.
Same feel and consistency as what? Embalmed brains don't feel a lot like fresh brains either. (Based on my experience with animal brains.)

Last edited by Colibri; 04-21-2013 at 05:57 PM.
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:04 PM
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As a fresh brain.
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by echo7tango View Post
Plastinated brains would not have the some feel and consistency, which I think a science teacher would want for the students.
Well, that wouldn’t matter much. These are kindergartners we’re talking about. Any brain outside of a human body is going to have to be preserved in some way that drastically alters its texture. A live brain isn’t rubbery like liver; it’s so soft that I’ve heard it described as being almost like cottage cheese, although this may be a substantial exaggeration. I just want them to be able to see and hold a real human brain.

ETA: never mind—I see you guys already cleared that up.

Last edited by Washoe; 04-21-2013 at 06:06 PM.
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:11 PM
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From the [insert a group you think is foolish]. Theirs have never been used.
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:12 PM
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Actually, I think the first thing I’ll try is the biology department (I work at a lab school). They may have one I can just borrow for a day. Maybe if I get really lucky the donor’s name will have been Abby Normal.
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Washoe View Post
...These are kindergartners we’re talking about...
and
Quote:
I just want them to be able to see and hold a real human brain.
Really? It seems to me that might be a little inappropriate for 5 year olds.
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by echo7tango View Post
As a fresh brain.
Well, there's no way you're going to get a fresh brain (legally), and students won't know the difference anyway.

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Originally Posted by Washoe View Post
Well, that wouldn’t matter much. These are kindergartners we’re talking about.
Regular anatomical specimens probably wouldn't be provided to classes below the university undergraduate level.

Quote:
A live brain isn’t rubbery like liver; it’s so soft that I’ve heard it described as being almost like cottage cheese, although this may be a substantial exaggeration. I just want them to be able to see and hold a real human brain.
Fresh brains are extremely soft, and cottage cheese would not be much of an exaggeration (although they hold together better). When cleaning a skull, the brain can be semi- liquified with a dissecting needle and then washed out of the foramen magnum.
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:20 PM
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How much you offering? I'll sell you mine, but you will have to come and get as I wont be able to ship it myself.
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:23 PM
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You can get one of those new Curry's brains (with a mudguard!) for eight bob.
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:38 PM
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Can't you just get a cow or sheep's brain from a butcher? For the OP's purpose, it's not going to make a difference.
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:44 PM
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Can't you just get a cow or sheep's brain from a butcher? For the OP's purpose, it's not going to make a difference.
I think that's a good idea. For Kindergartners, I think this would be a good demonstration. Kids typically don't want to wear helmets, and to understand at an early age that the brain sloshes around when one falls and hits their head against a hard surface would be a good lesson to learn at an early age. Tying that in to the shock absorption protection a helmet gives would be a good lesson at such an early age.

This, from a guy who suffered a concussion and skull fx at 17 because I didn't wear a helmet. I had no idea they're the consistency of cottage cheese.
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:48 PM
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Regular anatomical specimens probably wouldn't be provided to classes below the university undergraduate level.
.
My highschool teacher had one, but kindergarten is a little off. Are you sure the parents would be alright with it? I would, but my four year old can't wait for every episode of the walking dead. I'm pretty sure we are an unusual family that way.
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:53 PM
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I had no idea they're the consistency of cottage cheese.
Think of the whitish part of that sirloin you had the other day: the primary composition of ganglial tissue is fat.
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Old 04-21-2013, 07:16 PM
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Really? It seems to me that might be a little inappropriate for 5 year olds.
One of my students fainted the first time she saw a cadaver. She was probably 19.
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Old 04-21-2013, 07:16 PM
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Oh geez, I'm now thoroughly disgusted.
....and on that note, I bid you all goodnight.

Last edited by Fluffy PickleSniffer; 04-21-2013 at 07:16 PM.
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Old 04-21-2013, 07:37 PM
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It's going to be very interesting when some newbie zombifies this thread 5 years down the road!

Last edited by John Mace; 04-21-2013 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 04-21-2013, 07:56 PM
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It's going to be very interesting when some newbie zombifies this thread 5 years down the road!
My exact about-to-post!
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Old 04-21-2013, 08:31 PM
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I went to grad school in behavioral neuroscience and used to keep a five pound bucket of real human brains beside my desk. Fixed brains (in formaldehyde) are about the least gross body part you can present to a class. They look like clay or putty and feel like it too. I always liked giving brain anatomy demonstrations to undergrads because it was a universal hit. Even the most timid sorority girls stayed after class to handle them and everyone was fascinated. Unfortunately, I don't know where you can buy them on demand. We got ours from the medical school after the cadavers had served their purpose.

Fresh brains don't feel like cottage cheese BTW. I can promise you that from experience. They are soft but have a definite and easily observable structure especially in the areas like the corpus callosum and brain stem. The various cortexes are also well-defined just like any other organ. Human brains are much smaller than most people expect as well. There are over 700 anatomical areas within that small area that you can point to if you know what you are talking about and about 50 if you just want to cover functions at a gross level.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 04-21-2013 at 08:33 PM.
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Old 04-22-2013, 01:05 AM
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Cottage cheese -- that was used to describe how soft a fresh brain is, not that the brain feels like that. Shagnasty, would you agree, or else how would you descibe it? Inquiring brains want to know.
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Old 04-22-2013, 01:22 AM
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Showing a human brain to kindergartners might not be the best career move.

Blowing up the science lab in junior high, passing out condoms in health class, and using human brains for show and tell in kindergarten are the sort of things that one might expect to be career limiting, regardless of their pedagogical value.
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Old 04-22-2013, 02:23 AM
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. These are kindergartners we’re talking about. .
Presenting a human brain to kindergartners? Seems to me it's the perfect recipe to lose a job.

You should probably get the approval of the principal before doing such a thing.
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Old 04-22-2013, 04:05 AM
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Presenting a human brain to kindergartners? Seems to me it's the perfect recipe to lose a job.

You should probably get the approval of the principal before doing such a thing.
In writing, if you do this.
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Old 04-22-2013, 08:58 AM
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get a calf brain or something closer to child size.

tell them it was from this kid that's no longer around that always was a trouble maker. it will then serve dual purposes.
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Old 04-22-2013, 10:36 AM
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Then tell them it's often served with a brown butter sauce and perhaps some capers. Or gently stirred into scrambled eggs. Don't forget to first soak it in milk for a while and remove the medulla before using.

Then, as we all know, they are served by announcing ....

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 04-22-2013 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 04-22-2013, 10:58 AM
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The kids in my class would go totally apeshit over something like this. They would be talking about it for months. So is there any place I can get one?
In some cases maybe for years . . . to their therapist.

Kindergarteners! Come on!
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Old 04-22-2013, 11:05 AM
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One of my students fainted the first time she saw a cadaver. She was probably 19.
Yes...but you were teaching algebra at the time.
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Old 04-22-2013, 11:21 AM
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Yes...but you were teaching algebra at the time.
While I have had some stiffs in my classes, most of them weren't actually embalmed.
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Old 04-22-2013, 11:23 AM
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Buy a brain? Sigh, kids these days always want to take short cuts. Back in my day all you needed was a good shovel and and hunch backed assistant.
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Old 04-22-2013, 12:50 PM
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In some cases maybe for years . . . to their therapist.

Kindergarteners! Come on!
Wouldn’t be the first time. We’ve had parents who are MDs bring in skeletal tissue and blood for demonstration. Some of the teachers have done small animal dissections. This is a lab school we’re talking about. Children aren’t idiots. We don’t tell children that they can’t engage in mock gun play. Each class is allowed to vote at the beginning of the year whether or not to permit gun play in their room.
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Old 04-22-2013, 01:15 PM
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Wouldn’t be the first time. We’ve had parents who are MDs bring in skeletal tissue and blood for demonstration. Some of the teachers have done small animal dissections. This is a lab school we’re talking about. Children aren’t idiots. We don’t tell children that they can’t engage in mock gun play. Each class is allowed to vote at the beginning of the year whether or not to permit gun play in their room.
Frankly, being shown human blood or bones is a long way from handling a brain. They may not be idiots but they are still small children, and, frankly, I am quite sure that plenty of adults would be seriously squinked out by being expected to do something like that.

I do not know what your school's policy on mock gun play has to do with anything.
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Old 04-22-2013, 01:34 PM
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Old 04-22-2013, 01:34 PM
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I do not know what your school's policy on mock gun play has to do with anything.
It illustrates the point that children are not idiots, nor do we treat them as such.
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Old 04-22-2013, 02:29 PM
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Children aren’t idiots.
It's not the children that I'd be concerned about -- it's their parents. Run it up the chain and then through the parents first.
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Old 04-22-2013, 03:06 PM
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Old 04-22-2013, 03:08 PM
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Old 04-22-2013, 03:18 PM
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Wouldn’t be the first time. We’ve had parents who are MDs bring in skeletal tissue and blood for demonstration. Some of the teachers have done small animal dissections. This is a lab school we’re talking about. Children aren’t idiots. We don’t tell children that they can’t engage in mock gun play. Each class is allowed to vote at the beginning of the year whether or not to permit gun play in their room.
So what difference would there be if you showed them a cow or sheep's brain from a butcher?
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Old 04-22-2013, 03:43 PM
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FWIW- I remember a 5-year-old girl bringing a human skull for show and tell when I was in kindergarten (her dad was an archeologist).
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  #43  
Old 04-22-2013, 08:09 PM
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I would be concerned about the wishes of the person who donated the brain, likely by donating their body to science. They are surely expecting respectful handling of their parts for serious learning, not being tossed around by kindergarteners for wow factor.

I'm with the 'get some pig/sheep brains' crowd. I think the kids will be amazed enough to handle a brain and see which part does what and how it connects to the body. If you could get some with eye connections intact that would be cool.

I just can't see letting small children handle human remains when we as a society don't generally prepare our own dead for burial.
  #44  
Old 04-22-2013, 08:52 PM
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Cottage cheese -- that was used to describe how soft a fresh brain is, not that the brain feels like that. Shagnasty, would you agree, or else how would you descibe it? Inquiring brains want to know.
I don't think cottage cheese is a good description at all. To me at least, that implies that brains don't have a definite structure but they do. All of those cerebral cortex folds are not random. They are easily identifiable and have firm connections. The brain stem and corpus callosum (the wiring bridging the left and right hemisphere) is a lot more firm than the cortex areas. Fresh brains are fairly squishy but not something that can be swirled around like cottage cheese. You can penetrate one easily with a sharp finger stab or even easier with a tool but they are not semi-liquid. A better comparison would be a very ripe piece of fruit on the outside with firmer parts in the interior.

Any brains that you are likely to ever handle will be fixed in formaldehyde however and that treatment twists the proteins in place so that they feel like a piece of clay or putty and are not gross at all even to most squeamish people as long as you can deal with the chemical smell.
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Old 04-22-2013, 09:07 PM
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So what difference would there be if you showed them a cow or sheep's brain from a butcher?
I don't think it's possible to buy cow brains from a butcher in Britain. Sale of various kinds of tissue for human consumption was banned after the BSE scare.

Which, come to think of it, is another reason that some parents may make a fuss if brains are brought into the classroom.
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Old 04-22-2013, 09:12 PM
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Well, the OP's location is in California, so British laws wouldn't be an issue.
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Old 04-22-2013, 09:18 PM
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Googling seems to be remarkably unhelpful in this endeavor.
Oh, don't be so lazy! You don't need a computer, you just need a shovel!
  #48  
Old 04-22-2013, 09:25 PM
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The ethical hurdles to using donated human tissue can be huge.

My guess is that even if you overcome that, you will have a proportion of the class that thinks its cool, a proportion that thinks its icky, and a not insignificant proportion that bursts into tears and will take all your time handling them.

I'd go with a detailed plastic model for preschoolers and an analog if you want to demonstrate texture. Im told semi set jello is about right.
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Old 04-22-2013, 09:50 PM
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Old 04-22-2013, 10:07 PM
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The ethical hurdles to using donated human tissue can be huge.
I was always told that spare parts mostly come from India.
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