Let's Unpack The Stories Behind Those Mysterious Texas Brains

December 23, 2014 2:42 PM

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Let's Unpack The Stories Behind Those Mysterious Texas Brains

Last month, a Halloween-appropriate story went viral, of a cache of brains, decades old, that seemed to have vanished. The missing brains were part of a gift of 200 or so bequeathed to the University of Texas at Austin in 1986, after a frenzied bidding war among institutions including Harvard University. Dating back to the 1950s, the brains came from patients of what was then called the Texas State Lunatic Asylum (since rechristened the Austin State Hospital), an atypically benevolent mental institution from the days when such places could be as bleak as prisons.

The university was ostensibly keeping the brains to research what happens when conditions like Huntington's Disease, Alzheimer's, and Down Syndrome go untreated. Somewhere along the way though, it lost interest. Half of the collection was mistakenly "destroyed," according to university officials, wh...

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