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Visual Cortexes: Brain-Art Competition Shows Off Neuroscience's Aesthetic Side

To highlight the artistic effort neuroscientists pour into their research images, a nonprofit group held a friendly competition. We review the top entries and winners

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MRT STUDIES: STRUCTURAL DIFFERENCES

Look once, and this image seems just like any other brain scan. Look again, and a familiar nut appears. The comedic entry by researcher Andrea Carolin Lörwald took the humorous brain-representation category.....[ More ]

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SEXES VIA HIERARCHICAL EDGE BUNDLING

This winning entry in the human "connectome," or brain connections, category is based on fMRI data gathered from the brains of more than 1,000 people. Major brain regions are depicted in the outer circle, and specific locations (for example, "Amygdala L" is the left amygdala) are listed in the inner circle.....[ More ]

FABRIC MRI: BILL'S BRAIN

When neuroscience artist Marjorie Taylor acquired MRI imagery of her husband Bill Harbaugh's brain, she wove the scans into a 1.2-meter by 1.8-meter hooked rug with wool fabric. "You have got to see this thing in person.....[ More ]

TEXTURED BRAIN

The brain is a monotone mass of neurons that is often difficult to pick apart, even on a dissection table. Yet through a technique called diffusion MRI, which measures the spread of water molecules through neural tissue, researchers can add revealing color to the maze of connections.....[ More ]

NEURAL ART

Dandurand created a Web-based applet that generates random yet similarly colorful neural network plots like the one shown.....[ More ]

A CRADLE FOR REST

cAlthough not a winner, this Newton's cradle–inspired illustration by University of Western Ontario neuroscience PhD student R. Matthew Hutchison is one of Margulies's favorites. "He's taking new line of research about the brain's functional organization and rendering it onto spheres.....[ More ]

AMYGDALA ANATOMY IN AUTISM

These spindly etchings depict the brain as if seen through the base of the head, with the forehead on the bottom. Almond-shaped amygdalae—regions that help the brain regulate emotion—are highlighted in yellow [ left ].....[ More ]

REBRAIN

The flat brain image at center looks simple enough. That is, however, precisely why its creator—neuroscientist Roberto Toro—won in the 3-D brain-rendering category. "This image completely maximizes the amount of cortex tissue you can see, but doesn’t distort it so you can't recognize the regions," Margulies says.....[ More ]

MARILYN

In true Warholian style, this work by neuroscientist Charlotte Rae serves to illustrate the rise of brain imaging in popular culture.  ....[ More ]

SLICES OF LIFE

On a vine-covered wall, MRI brain scans of happy minds and sad minds mingle. Artist Mireia Guitart collaborated with neuroscientist Simon Surguladze of King's College London to create the work, and she said it is meant to show how similar areas of the brain are activated in response to each emotion.....[ More ]

INSIDE-OUT

Simon Drouin , a research assistant at McGill University in Montréal, created this illustration of an MRI brain slice digitally tattooed on his likeness.....[ More ]

THE BRAIN TREE

This hand-drawn illustration submitted by Norwegian artist Silje Soeviknes won the Brain-Art Competition's abstract category. "[I]n my language the brain stem is called the 'brain tree trunk' ( hjernestamme ) and the brain cortex is called the 'brain tree skin' ( hjernebark )," Soeviknes said of her work's symbolism.....[ More ]

LA MIE DE BRAIN

Translated as "crumbs of the brain," this illustration of the cerebral cortex depicts the transition in early research of major regions to detailed modern analyses. Neuroscientists in the past century first mapped major brain regions (primary colors), but modern researchers are now studying connected structures at the cellular level.....[ More ]

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