>> You're looking at racks and racks of human brains hidden away beneath a psychiatric hospital in Belgium, one of the world's largest collections of the gray matter. But if you're squeamish, you might want to turn away now before Reuters Robert-Jan Bartunek explains why it's there.>> And what we have here is a collection of 3,000 brains, which is part of an even larger collection of 8,000 brains that was brought together by a British psychiatrist in the second half of the 20th century.
Now, the hospital in London where this collection was originally based ran out of space, so they had to look for a new home for this collection. And the most interesting bits of the collection that pertain to psychiatry were then brought here to Duffel in Belgium. This is not just some morbid bit of curiosity, there is actually some scientific value in all these brains especially if you look at some of the older ones which were collected in the late 50s of the previous century.
Now doctors and researchers here say that they can use these brains that were never medicated for illnesses such as schizophrenia, such as psychosis, and they can look at the chemical processes that are happening in these brains and how treatment that we have at the moment can be improved.
>> Some of these brains are intact. Some have already been sliced up by scientists of the past. The collection is overseen by the University of Antwerp which hopes the first results of research from the batch will be published later this year.>> Now it is a bit weird to be here in the basement of this psychiatric hospital and see all these brains.
Some of them stored in formaldehyde, some of them stored in paraffin, and some of them just in ordinary Tupperware boxes like you would find them at home, which makes the whole experience a bit creepy.>> It's a lot of brains at work, both alive and dead.