You Top Them All

You Top Them All

Ode to the Brain

Ashley Davidoff MD  Copyright 2010

O Brain O Glorious  Brain

In my life

You have been the cause of my highest and my lowest

Without you, I am nothing but sand of the earth

And with, you I have mind and soul

Giving  life its true joy and meaning

Aristotle miscalled you

and gave your function to my dear dear heart

I suspect you looked so dumb and gray

next to the pounding and passionately red heart

Who could have thought otherwise

in those days of early exploration.

And in scholalrly pursuits

 You have been my nemesis for so many years

You have scared me to delve

An approach to you from the outside

Brought clefts and gyrations

That could drive any limbic system wild

With great complexity of name and number

Your parts have puzzled

and each successor anatomist has named them differently

So whom to believe?

Your fore part mid part and hind part have confounded with

prosen mesen and rhomben cephalons

and then adding the telen dien meten and myelen part of the Cephalon family

just poured salt to the wounds of a twisted tongue and brain


The shapes of your structure led to the

choroid plexus  – a delicate knot,

the falx – a sickle,

the crista galli – a crest of the cock ,

the cerebellum, a little brain and the

amygdala, a little organ named after a  big nut – the almond

While the worm of them all – the vermis, positioned in the crotch of the little brain.

The character of your structure reminded some of the the nature of mothers

The duramater acting like the tough mother

and the pia mater the soft and delicate one

You are fortunate to have both protecting you!

Time and curiosity has started to uncover your true nature

And your secret seems to lie in your incerdible organization

And your ability to connect the dots of all the parts

Fore and aft

Up and Down

Your organization and connectivity are meticulous

So that instruction and feedback

Checks and balances

Happen at incredible speed and efficiency

And in number with all those billions of cells working together

You have power

To create at the highest supratentorial level

An Einstein whose 5 symbols brought simplicity to complexity

and changed the world forever

And on the other hand

you made

A Hitler whose power yielded unfathomable and disgusting cruelty

which changed the world forever as well

And I therefore cannot trust you – always

Your sensory instruments ensure our awareness

And your motor section through contraction and secretion move us in so many ways

While your autonomic section

Brings the symphony of body function together

Ensuring that all are playing their parts in harmony

And each realising their full potential

Giving not too much and not too little and taking and using just enough


Our society and government have much to learn from you O wise one

From the happy society of your structure and function

Giving each and all full power of function

Without too much or too little but just enough

In vivo we had many years before we could see you

But you were the first to be exposed by computed tomography

Unlike many of the others below you

You have a calm and controlled outward appearance

Despite the buzz inside you

As a result you sit still and smile for the camera

And look so beautiful in the image of the CT and MRI

Now functional MRI and PET are bringing us new insights into your function

And we are slowly learning your intricate ways

Yet we have a ways to go

O Brain O Brain

You sometimes drive me insane

OBryan ONiarb OBrine

I sometimes read you upside down

Or front to back

Your complexity astounds

and I stand in awe

and ponder how there could be so so many

who read “brain”

And I cry for those who read “niarb”

Since without your full function

One is cheated out of the full capacity

To be on top of life

I cry when I see the demon in you

and stand back in awe when I see the

Einsteins, Mozarts, Mother Theresas, Gandhis, Shakespeares, Lincolns, Dames Sutherland, Fonteyns and da Vincis –

We should all pray for the latter group and sanity to lead our civilization

Not too much and not too little

I worry sometimes.

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