While reporting on my story about the Whole Brain Catalog, I had occasion to catch up with Jacopo Annese, the University of California, San Diego neuroanatomist who runs the Brain Observatory.

He told me that the much anticipated slicing of H.M.’s brain is scheduled to commence on Dec. 2, the first anniversary of the famous amnesiac’s death.

If you recall from my story in December, Annese took possession of H.M.’s brain shortly after his death. H.M., who now can be identified as Henry Molaison, suffered a debilitating loss of short-term memory after undergoing experimental brain surgery in the 1950s. He became the most widely-studied brain patient in history.

Annese’s plan is to slice H.M.’s brain into 3,000 fraction-of-a-millimeter thin sections that can be placed on oversized microscope slides and scanned into a computer. He and his colleagues will then construct the first ever three-dimensional, high-resolution digital map of a complete human brain, and make it available online.

Annese said everything is proceeding according to plan. Several MRI’s have been taken of the famous cerebrum, and Annese and his colleagues have even done some practice runs on other brains in preparation of the big event.

“We’ve done the dress rehearsals to make sure everything is working well,” Annese said.


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