Remarkably, this is a photograph of what was once an actual adult human brain — but without the characteristic ridges and folds. But because the patient's medical records were lost, we may never know what life was like for this person.
Image credit: Adam Voorhes.
Here's what we do know. The person to whom this extraordinary brain belonged to was a resident of what is now North Texas State Hospital, a mental health facility. He or she died there in 1970. As New Scientist reports, the jar containing the brain is labelled with a reference number, but the microfilm containing the patient's medical records have been lost.
Scientists have seen this sort of thing before — but not to such an extreme degree. It's a condition known as agyria, or sometimes lissencephaly, in which the brain lacks the gyri and sulci, the normal ridges and folds that make up the cerebral cortex.
Typically, this condition leads to death by the age of 10 and can cause muscle spasms, seizures, and learning difficulties (on account of reduced surface area). But what makes this sample even more bizarre is that it came from an adult, leading scientists to speculate that the patient likely suffered from severe psychological defects.
More at New Scientist.