ByKarly Rayner, writer at
Movie Pilot's celebrity savant
Karly Rayner

Discovering a collection of 100 human brains in a forgotten corner of a mental hospital is a once in a life time event, and photographer Adam Voorhes was determined to make the most of his find.

After stumbling upon the macabre collection at the University of Texas Mental Hospital while working for Scientific America, Voorhes was so captivated that he returned on his own time two years later to start documenting the medical relics.

Slices of brains that are all malformed in some way
Slices of brains that are all malformed in some way

Voorhes began the painstaking process of documenting the intricacies of each specimen in 2013, but soon curiosity got the better of him and he had to find out more about how the brains had ended up in the Texas basement.

Some of the brains have disintegrated with age
Some of the brains have disintegrated with age

With the help of the experienced British journalist, Alex Hannaford, Voorhes started to sift through the strange history of the formaldehyde preserved human remains.

Every single specimen in the collection is unique in it's own way due to deformations or abnormalities which make these brains extremely rare, and still of great value to medical science.

A dyed specimen
A dyed specimen

After digging through centuries worth of old documents from the university, it was revealed the the specimens were once part of a vicious fight between University of Texas and rival colleges (including Harvard), to study the specimens. Ultimately, Texas won the 'battle of the brains.'

The brains themselves were taken from patients who had died in the care of Austin State Hospital. All medicals records that connect the specimens to the individuals that once donated them have since been lost.

The story of the brains is not all bleak though. Thanks to Voorhes' interest, the collection is now being utilized by the university for important scientific research.

Each brain is currently undergoing extremely detailed MRI scans that will allow medical researchers to learn more about the extremely rare abnormalities and, potentially, help patients today with the new found knowledge contained deep within the collection.

What makes these preserved brains particularly special is their ability to be scanned repeatedly for hours at a time - an ordeal that a living brain wouldn’t be able to cope with.

Larry Cormack, a psychology professor at the university told the press that:

This is a remarkably large collection of intact brains, and we don’t know which one is the most exciting. That is the reason for these scans — to finally see inside.”


You can learn more about the forgotten collection of brains in Adam Voorhes and Alex Hannaford's book HERE.


Do you think what this photographer did with these brains is ethically sound?

(Source: Huffington Post, The University of Texas)


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