December 2, 2010 0:46 — 0 Comments

Brain Photos Become ‘Mind Portraits’ in New Art Book

Connections between visual art and medicine are perhaps as old as the need to communicate about illness, whether in thanks or appeal to a deity like Asklepios in ancient Greece, or through illustrations of surgical treatment like those of Serefeddin Sabuncuoglu in mid-15th century Turkey. In contrast to Sabuncuoglu, who used art to further science, working in Renaissance Italy Leonardo da Vinci drew upon science to flesh out art by studying human anatomy through dissection. Adding a contemporary layer to their work are ever-evolving imaging techniques that give color, perspective and life to the structures of the brain. The striking images that result are juxtaposed with essays by neuroscientists and showcased in “Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain From Antiquity to the 21st Century” by Carl Schoonover, a doctoral candidate in neuroscience. Among the images is a haunting seascape of axonal devastation in the wake of a thalamic lesion. As Abigail Zuger, MD, notes in her article discussing the book: “Sometimes the aesthetics of the image itself captivate. Sometimes the thrill is the magic of a dead-on fabulous technique for getting at elusive data.”