I was one of 70,805 children given the Scottish Mental Survey, which analysed the average intelligence of schoolchildren born in 1936.
As my 70th birthday approached, myself and 1,000 others from the initial tests were recruited by the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh to take part in a follow-up study, the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936.
The physical health and cognitive skills of each participant were tested every three years over a decade. The results formed the foundations of the world’s largest study into how childhood mental capacity affects health and cognitive function in later life.
I can’t quite remember taking the survey all those years ago but when the University of Edinburgh got in touch, I was more than happy to get involved.
I went through health examinations and MRI scans, and sat a test similar to the one from my school days. As a miner born and raised in Tranent, East Lothian, I was used to lying in confined spaces, so the lengthy scans never bothered me.
Data from the scans was used to create a 3D replica of my brain and a laser-etched model in crystal of my white matter.
The first time I saw them was completely surreal. Holding an exact replica of your brain sounds like something from a science fiction novel but it was an incredible experience. The crystal model is printed in two halves and if you look closely enough, you can see my brainstem is off-centre.
When my youngest grandchild saw me on the telly she said, “Granda, I saw your brain on the television. Was it sore getting it out?” I told her it wasn’t too bad. I’m proud to have taken part in a project that will help others.