Human Brain Donation is Important to Future Treatments in Dementia

Christine Kennard Health Pro
  • When I decided to donate my brain for research into dementia and other types of diseases associated with aging, Michelle, a research nurse specialist, came to tell me all about it. We talked about what would happen following my death and most importantly, how my brain would be used to help scientists. She told me what ethical safeguards are in place to make sure the tissue I donate is used in sound research projects.


    Newcastle University Institute of Neuroscience, like many other Brain Bank Resource centers, begin gathering information about you long (hopefully) before your death. Every brain donor agrees to provide details of their any symptoms, medical history, lifestyle and medications they experience. The university I have donated to comes and collects some of the information. A few tests; (The Bristol) Activities of Daily Living Scale, information on any sensory or motor impairment, Newcastle Brain Tissue Resource (NBTR) Motor Examination, The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA), a Global Deterioration Scale, a Depression Scale, The Geriatric Depression Scale and a Neuroscience Inventory with Caregiver Distress Scale (NPI-D) are all done and are occasionally repeated over time. The test results, along with information that your family doctor supplies, all help build up your individual profile to inform the study or studies that are supplied with your brain donation samples.

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    Human tissue samples are important because animal models of disease processes can only show what happens in animals. Whole brains and/or human brain and spinal cord tissue can better recreate the complex and subtle changes that occur in the condition being studied. Scientists need to investigate what is happening inside individual nerve cells. The brains of people with and without the condition are needed to make comparisons and match these with the information collected throughout our lives.


    My Brain donation is given free, I receive no financial gain. It is a final contribution to a life well lived!

Published On: December 14, 2014