Gordon Johnson: Doctor, when we set out to understand the anatomy of the brain, do you agree that it’s important that we begin with the skull?
Dr. Erin Bigler: The brain sits inside the skull and developmentally, the growth of the brain is stimulating the growth of the skull.
Gordon Johnson: Explain to us the role that the skull plays in protecting the brain.
Dr. Erin Bigler: This is an actual human skull, a real skull, and it has the skullcap removable. So, I’m going to take the skullcap and turn it this way so we can look down into the base of the brain. And as we look in here, you can actually see that it’s pretty amazing when someone hasn’t looked inside the skull before and they look at it the first time.
Gordon Johnson: Let me turn that a little bit so we get a little better light in there.
Dr. Erin Bigler: So, when you look at it the first time, you can see, wow, it’s not a smooth surface. It’s got lots of ridges and it has bony areas that jut out. There’s a purpose for that because from an evolutionary standpoint, the brain is not designed to withstand any type of real serious brain injury, but it is designed that we have to be able to move our head and jump around and run and those kinds of things. You can’t have this soft organ bouncing around in it. It has to be held tightly, and it’s held tightly by these bony ridges and these different cavities that you see.
Gordon Johnson1: Now, we have before us these hard plastic models of the brain.
Dr. Erin Bigler: Yes.
Gordon Johnson: And, you know, I can go, I can hit that like it’s a block of wood.
Dr. Erin Bigler: Yes.
Gordon Johnson: That’s not the consistency of the brain.
Dr. Erin Bigler: No, not at all. In fact, a neuropathologist that I worked with when I was back at the University of Texas, liked to describe the the consistency of the brain somewhat like warm butter. So, if you have a cube of butter out for Thanksgiving and it starts to soften, that is what the brain is like. So, you, if I may take this here and turn it around, see, it sits – that, this is a very hard, model here, but it’s a very soft brain that sits inside this hard shell. And that’s, that’s good under normal circumstances because that lets me jerk my head around quickly and not slosh the brain, beyond what it’s tolerating.