If you’re fancying an existential crisis at some point today, then look no further. In a medical video that is doing the rounds on the internet again today, a neuroscientist cradles the brain of a recently deceased patient, giving you a pretty incredible idea of what a fresh human brain actually looks like, while also threatening to tip you into a spiral of despair.
As the most complex object known in the entire universe, the brain is a truly amazing organ. Despite only accounting for around 2 percent of our weight, it controls almost every aspect of our bodies through the 86 billion nerve cells that twist and connect together. And yet from that dense mass of matter something else utterly extraordinary occurs, as consciousness sparks into existence and the human mind is created.
The video was actually filmed back in 2013 for the Neuroscience Initiative at the University of Utah, in order to give people a better idea of what the brain looks like after it has just been removed during a recent autopsy.
For many, the most surprising aspect of the freshly removed brain is the texture and solidarity of the organ. The consistency is almost gelatinous like pinky-red jello, as Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy Suzanne Stensaas displays while she handles the brain talking over the different regions. It is so squidgy that even just by holding it, Stensaas leaves imprints on the organ.
“It’s much softer than most of the meat you would see in the market,” Stensaas worryingly explains, “so if I were to pinch this... [pinches human brain] either way I could easily damage this with my thumb.”
The fact that the organ that gives you consciousness, stores your memories, and keeps you existing is so fragile and easily disfigured is a fairly humbling thought. And it is precisely this message that the Neuroscience Institute wants viewers to take away with them. If so much damage can be inflicted with just a single thumb, imagine the destruction wrought in a car or bike crash. In other words, you should be wearing your helmets and seatbelts for a very good reason, guys.
It’s a truly fascinating video to watch, though it might be best not to do so just before bedding down for the night.