Skip to main content

Historical background

In 1944, the Directorate for the State Mental Hospitals in Denmark initiated the establishment of an institute for brain pathology at the Psychiatric State Mental Hospital in Risskov just outside Aarhus.

The institute was to be in charge of the post-mortem examination of brains from patients who died in the State Mental Hospitals. The Insitute of Brain Pathology opened April 1, 1945

The Institute of Brain Pathology was closed May 1, 1982.
The collected brains were saved for future research and form the present Brain Collection.

Many brains were examined


During 37 years, the Institute of Brain Pathology examined brains from 9479 patient.

The Danish state mental hospitals

The brains came from patients autopsied at the Danish state mental hospitals. The largest psychiatric hospital in Denmark, Sct. Hans Hospital, was not a state mental hospital and hence did not send brains to Risskov for examination.


Number of brains


The majority of the brains came from the large and old state mental hospitals, whereas only few brains from the more recently established psychiatric hospitals were examined.

Distribution of diagnoses


Based on preliminary numbers.

Age distribution for the examined patients

indsæt billede

The majority of the examined patients died old—some after living a long life at a psychiatric hospital.

indsæt billede

This plot was calculated to give an impression of the age of potential next of kin alive today.




Last Updated 25.05.2021