In a quest to learn why some people are blessed with extreme intelligence while others are cursed with amnesia or other neurological diseases, a local UCSD professor opened the Brain Observatory for public visits.

The Brain Observatory, founded in 2005 by Dr. Jacopo Annese, started as a research lab on the campus of The University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Today, the Observatory operates as an independent institute in Downtown San Diego in pursuit of a higher mission to bring neuroscience knowledge and tools into the community.

This month At Home Nursing Care Case Manager, Chrissy, brought two care management clients to the observatory. Dr. Annese gave a presentation and then allowed the guests to see preserved brains in person.   Among the brains on display, one donated by a previous Nobel Prize Winner, along with another brain donated by a man who lived to 101 and was apparently, “a hit with the ladies.”

Are there clues in their brains as to what led to these gifts?  The laboratory points out that while we often talk about “the human brain,” no two brains are exactly alike, not even for identical twins.  While most science research takes place in large institutions or companies behind closed doors, the goal is to share the research with everyday people.

The lab uses MRI and microscopy to study normal brain function and neurological disease.  They also collect information about the people who donated their brains for study, connecting each brain with the story of the person who lived with it.

The observatory opened with free tickets this month seeking feedback, and typically charges $20 per ticket to the public.   You must reserve your spot in advance for this uncrowded and very interesting experience.