comparative mammalian collections at UW and MSU
contain over 275 mammal brains that were serially sectioned,
stained with fiber and cell stains, mounted on glass slides,
and made ready for microscopic study. The species in the collections
were chosen to be representative of a broad spectrum of mammalian
orders and families (see Purpose).
comparative collection consist of over half a million stained
sections, which includes a complete section series for each
brain (see Methods).
most specimens we also have acrylic casts and molds of each
brain, as well as photographs of the intact brains. For each
brain in the comparative collections, the sections are stained
in alternate series: even-numbered sections are stained to show
cell bodies and nuclear formations, and odd-numbered sections
are stained to show myelinated axons, tracts and fiber pathways.
the majority of the specimens, whenever possible, there are
documented sources, histories, brain and body weights and measures,
and in some cases movies and body photos of the animals. In
addition to the large holdings of sectioned brains, an additional
200 or more specimens still reside in celloidin, and await further
human brain collections in the Yakovlev-Haleem slide library
at the National Museum
of Health and Medicine (NMHM) contains over 900 normal
and pathological human brains, that were stained for myelinated
fibers and cell bodies. There are over 250,000 large 5"
x 7" slides of these human brain sections.
value of the collections, based upon current costs of preparing
stained sections on slides, together with all documentation
and materials for all the brains in the collectons would be
tens of millions of dollars.
electronic document is designed to provide browsers with an
overview of the contents and quality of the slide material in
these collections. We intend to include tutorials about how
the brains of mammals are constructed, how they function and
how they have developed, during evolution, as well as during
will be able to "download" images and text for their
own educational purposes. We hope to encourage the research
and educational use of the collections.
we provide, by means of e-mail and "response forms",
an interactive forum for anyone interested in learning about
how and why brains differ in different mammals.