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Jul. 20, 2011

Pretty Smart: The Fine Art of Neuroscience

by Ian Chant

Click to enlarge images

This is your brain on Warhol. Well, not your brain, but someone’s. This work by Valerie van Mulukom is one of 55 featured in the Cirque du Cerveau, an art competition that challenged neuroscientists from around the world to turn offer artistic takes on their area of expertise – the human brain. The result is an uncharacteristically aesthetic exploration of how we see the brain.

Cirque du Cerveau encouraged neuroscientists to think outside the box about how they present their work to the public, and to blur the lines between science and art. Media ranged from pen and ink and computer generated graphics to beautifully rendered MRI scans, all of which offer audiences a fresh look at the brain. Those looks run the gamut from the beautiful to the bizarre to the just plain goofy.

The show was organized by The Neuro Bureau, which promotes ‘open source’ neuroscience and expanded data sharing and collaboration between researchers in the field. The organizers presented awards for the best work in 4 categories – Humor, Abstract, 3-D Rendering, and Connectome (which shows connections between neurons in the brain) as part of the 2011 Human Brain Mapping Conference. Though the awards show, like the conference, wrapped in Quebec last month, you can check out the full galleries here and see who took home the top prize in each of the four categories. You can also check out more neuroscience inspired art on the Neuro Bureau blog.

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About Ian Chant

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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