independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

World's smallest brain goes on show

A dissected brain in a jar at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester, part of a new exhibition called Brains: The Mind as Matter

The world's smallest brain and a rare medieval manuscript depicting a human brain are part of a new exhibition on the hidden world of the mind.

Brains: The Mind As Matter explores what humans have done to brains in the name of medical intervention, scientific inquiry, cultural meaning and technological change.

Part of the brain of infamous body-snatcher William Burke forms part of the collection to go on display at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester.

Burke was hanged in 1829 for a series of murders in Edinburgh with partner in crime William Hare to supply bodies to anatomist Robert Knox for money.

A model of Einstein's brain is included in the exhibition and there is footage of the world's smallest known brain - the nematode worm C.elegans, a 1mm-long worm which has just 302 neurons compared to the estimated 86 billion neurons of a human brain. It is the only brain to be fully mapped by scientists.

And it will be the first time that On The Body And Soul, an anonymous manuscript written in 1495, has gone on public display in Britain, loaned by the University of Manchester for the exhibition.

Brains curator Marius Kwint said: "The brain is the subject of major international efforts to grapple with its unimaginable complexity, and to understand the way that it provides for our behaviour, memory and consciousness.

"In some ways, the study of the brain is our present-day moonshot. So we need to consider how our view of the brain, as the core of human identity, has come about, and what people have done to each other in the name of brain science.

"The quest to unravel the brain's mysteries is a fascinating and sometimes moving story."

The exhibits feature alongside contemporary artworks, specimens, artefacts and film footage and runs from this Friday until January 4 at MOSI.

Press Association

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