Magnetic resonance imaging and modern brain science are synonymous. Without MRI, the scientific community and world at large might still believe such widespread mythologies as ‘You only use 10 per cent of your brain’ or ‘Your IQ score can never change.’ The brain is not only the most important organ in the functional processes of the human body, it is also the source of your individual essence: your thoughts, identity, emotions and memories. Debunking myths along its way, MRI has been instrumental in shedding light on what was hitherto a misunderstood organ in the heads of humans and animals: the brain.
Honoring MRI’s role in brain science, the Center for Cognitive and Neurobiological Imaging at Stanford University launched ‘Brain Scapes’, an art installation featuring sculpture, paintings and carvings inspired by MRI images of the brain Friday, June 7. Artist Laura Jacobson used images of her own MRI brain scan as her muse in a series now on display within the imaging center.
“[The Center’s] not a weird, scary place filled with chemicals,” says psychology professor and Center director Brian Wandell. “It’s a place where we bring families to study brain function, why we do things, behaviour. We thought having art that reflects what we see and do and our mission might make all of it more inviting.”
The above etching by Laura Jacobson, entitled Neuron No. 3, is explained as follows in the Brain Scapes brochure:
“Neuron No. 3 references three movements in neuroscience history: Jan Evangelista Purkinje (1787-1869) discovered and named these large cerebellar neurons in 1837; Italian physician Camillo Golgi (1843-1926) developed a process in 1873 that stains only a few neurons from the the tangled masses; and Spanish physician Santiago Ramon y Cajal (1852-1934) used Golgi’s drawings of the nervous system in the early 20th century. Neuron No. 3 alludes to this history and aims to express the complex beauty of the neuronal landscape.”