This Is What Happens To Your Brain When You Donate It To Science

One brain donated to science can be used in up to 50 research studies. Darragh Mason Field/Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank

Why Do It?

The post-mortem brain provides scientists with a way to probe the brain via an alternative means than imaging and animal testing. Although these tried-and-true methods are extremely useful in their own right, they have their limitations.

For many, then, brain donation is a way to make a lasting contribution to science. It is a gesture of solidarity and a means to help others who are afflicted with life-long diseases with no cure.

"I like the idea that, as an act of humanity, we all donate," said Kierek-Bell, whose husband retired from further education (although one could make a case he is still teaching to this day, as he shares his experience of Parkinson's with others).

Unfortunately, there is a shortage of human brain donations. For many who choose not to donate, it’s because it requires them to look at their own mortality or to envision their body being used in some way after death.

For others who have chosen the route of donation, it is a way of making an everlasting contribution when the mortal self is no longer there. It is a final gift.

In the end, it’s your brain’s decision whether it wants to donate itself to science. And in that, there is something beautiful.

An end that's not an end. Darragh Mason Field/Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank


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