From brain collections to modern brain banks: A historical perspective

Arenn Faye Carlos, Tino Emanuele Poloni, Valentina Medici, Maia Chikhladze, Antonio Guaita, Mauro Ceroni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our current knowledge of the structure, function, and diseases of the brain comes from direct examination of its substance. In the last centuries, only a few elite had managed to retrieve, gather, and preserve the elusive brain for their own research. The resulting brain collections, stored in formalin-filled jars or dried up in cabinets, served anatomical, neuropathological, anthropometric, ideological, and diagnostic purposes. In the 1960s, the first modern brain banks actively collecting and strategically preserving both diseased and healthy brains to be consequently distributed to the scientific community were instituted. In an era where state-of-the-art biochemical "Omic" studies and advanced metabolic and molecular neuroimaging exist, it is now, more than ever, that postmortem brain investigations must be performed. Only through the comparison and integration of postmortem neuropathological and biochemical findings and antemortem data from clinical, neuropsychological neuroimaging, and other biomarker examinations can we truly understand neurological disease mechanisms. Brain banks supplying brain specimens, antemortem information, and postmortem diagnosis are a major benefactor of brain research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-60
Number of pages9
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia: Translational Research and Clinical Interventions
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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