Sometimes the language of science falters in conveying the staggering complexity and profound beauty of the brain. Cue art. The Art of Neuroscience competition, an annual contest directed by the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, pushes researchers and artists to break from the rigid structure of the academic paper and cast the brain in a creative light. This year’s entrants blended color, sound, light and—in one case—human blood to celebrate the intricacies of humanity’s most mysterious organ. Below, Scientific American presents the winning entry and honorable mentions, along with our editors’ top picks*.

2018 Art Of Neuroscience Winner: For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been’

*Editor’s Note: Liz Tormes served as one of the judges in this year’s competition.