Gray, white and wet, an image of the brain by itself can repulse more often than inspire. But when researchers and artists look past its outward appearance, they can reveal thrilling images of the organ that the rest of us would otherwise never see. Although many of these images resulted from lab work and research into how our nervous system functions, they easily stand alone as art—clearly, a neuroscience degree is not necessary to appreciate the brain’s intricacies. 

For the seventh year in a row, the Art of Neuroscience competition out of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam asked researchers and artists to submit their paintings, renderings, magnifications and videos of animal brains. The committee’s winning entry and honorable mentions are presented below, along with a selection of Scientific American editors’ favorites.