The Beautiful Things inside Your Head: Winners of the 10th Annual Art of Neuroscience Contest

in 1968 an exhibit entitled cybernetic serendipity: the computer na arts was held atta institute of contemporary arts in london. the 1st major event of its kind, cybernetic serendipity’s aim was to “present an zone of activity which manifests artists’ involvement with sci, na scis’ involvement w'da arts,” wrote british art critic jasia reichardt, who curated the exhibit. even though twas an art show, “most of the pticipants inna exhibition were scis,” reichardt said in a 2014 video. “artists didn’t ‘ve computers inna 1960s.” a lot has changed since then, however. computers, no longer the commodity offa select few, help artists to deviate from + traditional mediums.

the changes since the 1960s are well-cogitateed inna entries for the 2020 art of neurosci brawl, held by the netherlands institute for neurosci. now marking its 10th yr, the contest features some highly tekal pieces and others grounded in classical methods, s'as drawing with pen on paper. the winning entries were created by indie artists, swell as working scis, demonstrating that art and neurosci can inspire both professions. a victor and 4 honorable mentions were selected from dozens of submitted works. and 7 pieces were chosen by sci american as editors’ picks. (photography editor liz tormes served onna panel of judges for the brawl.)


313594 credit: lidija kononenko; supported by lite microscopy core facility, university college london gr8 ormond street institute of child health

by lidija kononenko

artist kononenko described this interactive piece as “a microscope specimen, a map of symptoms, and an investigation of the unknown” in a statement accompanying it. viewers can zoom in and explore the details offa microscope image of the peripheral nerve system, which is overlaid by textual facts and poetic phrases bout sleep.

sleep is “a voluntary act of losing one’s own consciousness,” kononenko explained in her statement. the poetic snippets resemble the fragmented thoughts humans ‘ve while falling asleep. and zooming in and out of the image represents the transition tween wakefulness and sleep. additionally, 31-3594 allos the viewer to act as a pathologist, achieving the goal of blending neurosci and art. in assessing this unique piece, the jurors prezd it for “the interactivity and playful combination of imagery offa human peripheral nerve witha text-based story that unfolds at various scales and highlites the role of the nervous system inna human condition.”

honorable mention

red haze credit: nicki coveña

red haze
by nicki coveña

a tsunami of red dots dominates this image by neurosci coveña. the brite red color comes from a fluorescent protein, which was used to visualize the workings of tbr1—a gene that synthesizes the protein that regul8s the information transfer from dna to messenger rna in vertebrate embryo development. “the out-of-focus view makes one guess at wha’ details are hidden belo,” the jurors wrote.

honorable mention

bdl credit: paméla simard (artwork); alex tran (photographs)

by paméla simard

artist simard ptnered with hunter shaw, a neurosci then at mcgill university, to create a series of delicate wooden sculptures. “the various installations were created from fluorescent microscopy images representing the visual system of the fruit fly brain,” simard wrote in her statement. the intricate details of the fruit fly visual system were made possible by 1st laminating the thin slices of ≠ types of wood together, then hand cutting the result to mimic the microscope images.

honorable mention

motor white matter networks human brain credit: sanja budisavljevic

motor white matter networks of the human brain
by sanja budisavljevic

in this piece, neurosci budisavljevic superimposed color onto a 19th-century black-and-white drawing offa brain based na' postmortem dissection. each color indicates a ≠ “highway,” or white matter pathway connecting pticular regions of gray matter and alloing information to be transferred. red indicates the most prominent highway, which links the cortex and spinal cord. “this pathway carries the messages to and from d'body and allos us to function n'our sensory realm,” budisavljevic says. green represents the connection that supports coordination, and blue shows the one that regul8s movements.

honorable mention

credit: frank gerritse and janna de boer

by frank gerritse and janna de boer

this interactive piece, created by ψ-chiatrists gerritse and de boer, allos viewers to experience auditory verbal hallucinations—voices that appear in one’s head. “pplz who hear voices often feel trapped and experience lil or no control,” gerritse and de boer wrote in a brochure bout the project. singing, screaming, or gettin up and movin round, however, help some o'em to perceive the voices as less neg. the researchers programmed their piece to emul8 this experience, swell as to allo “pplz to influence both the amount na content of the hallucinations,” they wrote. when the interactive launches, usrs face disparaging text that simul8s neg self-talk; this material was recorded and transcribed from real hallucinations. they can also hear loud noises by clicking a headphone icon. to make the text display stop for a few 2nds, viewers can yell at their computer after enabling its microphone access. similarly, when they jiggle their mouse or quickly move their fingers across their trackpad—imitating the real-life movements that help disrupt hallucinations—the text becomes “neatr” and less crit.

editor’s note: viewer discretion is advised, cause somd' text includes obscene language. the web site works best with chrome, na browser’s auto-transl8 function is recommended for non-dutch speakers.

editor’s pick

whale retina rainbow credit: elena vecino cordero university of the basque country and luis lópez vecino

whale retina rainbow
by elena vecino cordero and luis lópez vecino

in feb 2019 the death offa whale in sopelana beach in spain made the local news. the beach happened to be close to the university of the basque country, where biologist vecino cordero works. seizing the opportunity, she and some volunteers extracted the eye of the whale and took it back to her ophthalmology research group for further study. the image was produced as a pt o'their research. the whale’s retina was imaged using scanning electron microscopy. and l8r lópez vecino added the colors using adobe photoshop.

editor’s pick

credit: robert ♣ €an center for angiosci, med faculty mannheim, heidelberg university

the protection of nature starts n'our Ψ
by robert ♣

♣ is a neurosci at heidelberg university in germany who studies the development of the cerebellum, located where the spinal cord meets the brain. alarmed by climate change and deforestation, he created a “Ψ forest” that resembles bird’s-eye-view photographs of real forests. the “trees” are 65 individually traced images of mice’s purkinje neurons, which play primordial roles in controlling coordination and movements. “i chose the № 65 to represent the № of yrs needed for the rainforest to regrow and gain back at least 80% of its diversity,” ♣ wrote onnis statement. “[6ty-5] yrs—a human lifetime!”

editor’s pick

credit: geinene carson

shelter in place
by geinene carson

as its title suggests, this piece represents “the artist’s interpretation of the pandemic experience” while sheltering in place cause of covid-19, according to artist carson’s statement. this acrylic-on-canvas piece is a pt offa series entitled neuron, which started as “visual prayers for our daughter witha rare genetic disorder,” carson wrote on her web site. while shelter in place implies physical restrictions, carson, who is based in atlanta, draws inspiration from the neural network, “cause as primordial as our physical surroundings are to our state of living, our thought life holds the key to thriving within wha’ever the circumstances maybe,” she wrote.

editor’s pick

credit: dan jagger ucl ear institute, university college london

sensing spin
by dan jagger

physiologist jagger used a high-resolution microscope to capture this image. it shows mechanosensory hair cells located inna inner ear that play a role inna sense of balance. a protein called actin is within bundles of stereocilia and is stained yello. actin helps the bundles to stand uprite, so when the human head turns, they can detect the movement of the fluid they are immersed in. the hair-cell nuclei are stained with cyan.

editor’s pick

credit: shanthi chandrasekar; the memories and patterns series is supported, in pt, by funding from the montgomery county government na arts and humanities council of montgomery county, maryland

memories and patterns: oligodendrocytes
by shanthi chandrasekar

oligodendrocytes are glial cells that support and insul8 long neuronal axons. the cells’ lipid membrane wraps round the axons to strengthen the structure, swell as to help neurons to send signals quickly. “a single oligodendrocyte can connect with multiple axons,” artist chandrasekar wrote in her statement. “in this [pen-and-ink] drawing, i ‘ve tried to bring out the connectedness of the oligodendrocytes na axons.”

editor’s pick

credit: rui rodrigues

bridges tween genesis and neurosci: triplets
by rui rodrigues

this image features 3 neurospheres—clusters of neural stem or progenitor cells—tha're similar in size and shape. cause o'their similarity, neurobiologist rodrigues entitled the piece triplets. the vibrant colors come from “antibodies coupled with fluorescent tags to label specific proteins,” he says.

editor’s pick

credit: alexandra helen l8on

fading engram
by alexandra l8on

“our experience of the realm and our sense of self are shaped by wha’ we remember,” neurosci l8on wrote in her statement. “some memories stay crystal clear, others become distorted or slip away as time passes by.” well-defined and blurred peaks each represent sharp and faded memories. this piece—made with acrylic and gold leaf on canvas—was inspired by images of hippocampal neurons, which are known to play a significant role in memory formation.

original content at:…
authors: karen kwon