Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that more people need to donate their brains to medical research if cures for diseases like dementia are to be found and are urging healthy people as well as those with brain disorders to become donors. 'For autism, we only have maybe 15 or 20 brains that have been donated that we can do our research on. That is drastically awful,' said Dr Payam Rezaie of the Neuropathology Research Laboratory at the Open University. 'We would need at least 100 cases to get meaningful data. A lot of research is being hindered by this restriction.' Part of the problem, according to Professor Margaret Esiri at the University of Oxford, may be that people are reluctant to donate their brains because they see the organ as the basis of their identity. 'It used to be other parts of the body that we thought were important,' says Esin. 'But now people realize that their brain is the crucial thing that gives them their mind and their self.' Dr Kieran Breen, of the Parkinson's Disease Society, said over 90% of the brains in their bank at Imperial College London were from patients, with the remaining 10% of 'healthy' brains donated by friends or relatives of patients. 'Some people are under the impression that if they sign up for a donor card that will include donating their brain for research. But it won't,' says Breen. 'Donor cards are about donating organs for transplant, not for medical science.'"
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