Category Archives: Brain anatomy


How to Perform Brain Surgery: A Guide for Time Travellers

Note: It should go without saying, but Anatomy Warehouse does not endorse the practice of performing brain surgery, unless you are, of course, a trained neurosurgeon. Don’t try this at home (even if you are a neurosurgeon).

This ancient example of trepanation was found in Peru, outside modern day Lima.  (National Museum of Health & Medicine)

This ancient example of trepanation was found in Peru, outside modern day Lima. (National Museum of Health & Medicine)

The history of neuroscience and brain surgery can be traced back thousands of years, all the way to our prehistoric relations. The earliest references to the human brain in written form came from the famed Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, a document dating back to the 17th century BC, but there is sufficient evidence to suggest that brain surgery was practiced as far back as the late Stone Age. Surgical implements used in early brain operation have been unearthed at one of Europe’s most noted archaeological digs, located in France. Outside of Europe, practice of brain surgery can be traced to pre-Incan civilizations, Mexico, North American native tribes, Africa, and even ancient Tibet. Fascinatingly, primitive examples of brain surgery appear to have had an exceptional success rate, with many patients restored to health.

While we can’t be positive why these early examples of brain surgery were practiced so successfully, the amount of early surgical tools that have been recovered, along with early cave paintings, can give us a solid idea of the most common practice of the time. Used to treat a variety of ailments, including epilepsy, migraines, and a variety of mental disorders, trepanning is performed by drilling or scraping into the human skull to expose the dura mater, the thick outer membrane of the human brain. The implement used to perform this could be a sharpened stone or obsidian, wood, or bronze.

Once the dura mater had been exposed, not much is known about how the treatment was carried out. However, modern medicine offers similar techniques, such as craniotomy, wherein a small flap of bone is removed temporarily to allow surgeons access to the brain. Additionally, fascinating archive video footage from the 1920s offers some insight into how trepanation was performed more recently. The video, while blurry, shows a man with a shaved head having a small hole drilled in his skull, and, once opened, a thin needle is inserted.

From Hieronymus Bosch's "The Extraction of the Stone of Madness."  (c. 1488-1516)

From Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Extraction of the Stone of Madness.” (c. 1488-1516)

The practice of trepanation continued through many pre-modern civilizations. Hippocrates himself gave a set of directions on the procedure, and the Middle Ages saw a surge in its practice as a cure for various ailments. While modern science still uses some similar procedures, the continuing practice of trepanning has been largely dismissed as pseudoscience by today’s medical community. Proponents of the practice say it increases blood flow to the brain and allows for heightened experience of daily life.



Want to learn more? Check out these links from around the web.

5 Geeky Gifts for Medical Students and Anatomy Enthusiasts

Gift giving can be hard, especially for the picky people on your list. You might know a biologist that wants a gift as clever as them, or an aspiring doctor who knows they’re too good for an average, generic gift. Impress them with an anatomically accurate gift! Here are some of the best picks from Anatomy Warehouse that will surely give any fan of science a thrill during the holidays.

Anatomical Bones SocksBones Socks

A geeky gift that’s sure to win the heart of your anatomy student! Bones socks are labeled, highly detailed, anatomically accurate, and perfect for anyone with adult-sized feet. Flip the soles of your foot and you can learn a little reflexology!

Magic Thinking CapBrain Anatomy Cap

What does your medical fanatic best friend want? Think, think hard…and get this magic thinking cap, featuring the anatomy of the human brain! This brain cap will fit most adult heads, and will prove how brainy the recipient truly is!

anatomy key ring spine vertebral column


Spine Key Ring

This miniature spine key ring is under $5, and is the perfect stocking stuffer for anyone who appreciates the human skeleton anatomy! Medical professionals have called this an excellent on-the-spot teaching tool when students ask questions about the vertebral column. And it’s sure to be a conversation starter no matter who you run into!

Skeleton System Clipboard

Another great anatomical product that your loved one can carry with them wherever they go is this clipboard, with both sides showing a detailed, labeled, and anatomical accurate human skeleton. Students would especially love this because even when they’re not in study mode, this helps them review skeleton anatomy and be ready for tests. And it’ll be all thanks to you! And if skeletons aren’t your thing, try the Muscular System Clipboard instead.

human head anatomy model tedcoHuman Head Anatomy Model

This little man is perfect for any medical educator or student’s desk, for quick reference as well as inspiration. He comes with 14 detachable parts, an illustrated assembly guide with anatomical information to enhance your medical education. It can also inspire the curiosity of anyone who comes to your desk!



So there you have it: great gift ideas that will excite any professional or soon-to-be professional in the healthcare arena. For more great anatomical picks, browse through our Anatomy Gifts section. Through December 20, 2012, you can get 20% off all the items in this category with the promo code listed on our Facebook page.

Happy Holidays!

6 Favors You Can Do for Your Amazing Brain

We don’t need to tell you over and over again the keys to a healthy lifestyle. You already know that eating lots of fruits and vegetables, exercising a couple times a week, sleeping good hours and stressing less are going to help you go far in life. In the case of your amazing brain, these healthy practices will certainly be a favor for the most important body part in the human anatomy:

The brain anatomy and how exercise helps to strengthen it

But what if you want to go beyond the basics? Wouldn’t you like to do as much as you can to preserve the condition of your brain’s health for the rest of your life? Here is what we’ve learned from medical research that may help your brain’s anatomy:

To learn more about your amazing brain, see our brain anatomy models and medical charts! They’re an extra 10% off until March 18th, when you enter code BRAIN10 at checkout.

Brain medical education products at Anatomy Warehouse