Brain Video Stirs Fascination, Goes Viral

May 23, 2014 12:00 AM

Author: Office of Public Affairs


It’s not for the faint of heart, but with over one-half million views, it’s clear that there is something about the University of Utah Brain Institute video, “The Unfixed Brain”, that has struck a chord with viewers.

“The brain in that pan is what motivates you, what mobilizes you. It’s the repository of your experiences,” said the video’s host and producer, U of U professor of neurobiology and anatomy Suzanne Stensaas, PhD. “You can’t help but be fascinated.”

In the video, Stensaas points out the anatomical features of a fresh brain, which is as soft as Jello and extremely fragile. Ordinarily, brains used for teaching purposes are first preserved in chemicals, rendering them as hard as a rubber ball. The lesson offers the unique opportunity to see what the brain inside our heads is really like.

Stensaas originally made the video as part of a global health outreach program, to illustrate the properties of the unfixed brain to medical students in Ghana who typically learn about the organ through models and pictures. She now also uses the video to stress the vulnerability of the brain, highlighting the importance of wearing helmets and seat belts to protect it.

According to the thousands of comments left by viewers, her message is getting across. Far outweighing the “eeew”s and “gross”s, are more poignant notes such as this one from Robert Campbell, “This should be part of the discussion when we talk about concussions in sports injuries (that is, more people should see just how fragile the brain really is)!”

Stenssas is surprised, but pleased, at the popularity of the video. “If I can get just one person to take steps to protect that precious tissue, I will have done my job.”

WARNING: The videos, created for educational purposes, contain graphic images of human tissue. It may not be suitable for all viewers.

Watch “The Unfixed Brain

Watch “The Unfixed Spinal Cord

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