Patient HM became famous for having a dense surgically-induced amnesia and taking part in numerous neuropsychology studies that told us a great deal about the structure of memory. He died last year but left his brain to science and Project HM has been set up to co-ordinate the scientific analysis of his brain.
According to a post on the Project blog, the process of dissecting and digitally recording the structure of HM’s brain will begin on Wednesday 2nd December and apparently you’ll be able to watch it live via video streamed from the site.
The best write up of the Project is over at Nature News who have unfortunately jailed their article behind a pay wall. However, here’s the punch line:
On 2 December, exactly one year after Molaison’s death, [Neuroanatomist Jacopo] Annese, of the University of California, San Diego, will begin dividing the brain into roughly 2,400 slices, each thinner than a human hair, and digitizing them. Annese hopes that Molaison’s brain will become the first of many in a digital human-brain library at the university.
Annese is one of the few people with the sophisticated equipment needed to slice whole human brains, which is how he came by Molaison’s brain. Most labs cut human brains into blocks before slicing them ‚Äî the fate that befell Albert Einstein’s brain.
Annese will mount and stain about every 30th slice for cell nuclei and projections, which will allow him to map the cellular architecture in three dimensions. The remaining slices will be available to the neuroscience community, with researchers able to view the particular slice they want to study before requesting it.
Link to Project HM website.