Sunday, May 15, 2016

Unit 7: Neuroscience + Art

Being a Psychology major, Neuroscience concepts are constantly introduced in many of my classes, and with each introduction I find myself more intrigued. Psychology is the study of the human mind, specifically behaviors that affect the mind. Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system, most specifically the study of the human brain, which is responsible for preserving the body and housing conscious and unconscious thinking. As professor Vesna mentions, the field of Neuroscience is fairly new, because for thousands of years many scientists who attempted to investigate the brain, just gave up. 

(Andy Warhol for Neuroscientists, by Valerie van Mulukom.)

I find the relationship of Neuroscience and art to be fascinating and beautiful. The human brain is the one that perceives art, it essentially creates it and gives meaning to it. Although the brain assigns meaning to art, it is art which influences the brain and mind so significantly. Art alters our perceptions of the things around us everyday; it is art that shifts our perceptions and creates conscious and unconscious emotions. This study of the mind and its perception of art has a significant influence on how artists develop their art, on psychotherapy, and on the field of advertising. 

(Hippocampus II, by Greg Dunn.)
Researchers Suzanne Anker and Giovanni Frazzetto extensively studied the brain's perception of art by creating the Neuroculture Project, which examined how modern brain science has affected popular culture. The ideas and concepts of neuroscience are constantly publicized and presented in mass media, art, film, literature, and commercial products. Anker and Frazzetto claim that neuroscientific knowledge is not limited to laboratories but is instead integrated into our everyday lives and influences our social values and consumer practices. They studied the combination of art and science in order to inform the scientific community and the public of the social and ethical implications of neuroscience developments. 

(Suzanne Anker's beautiful fMRI Butterfly images.)

The beautiful integration of neuroscience and art can further been seen in Anker's fMRI Butterfly, and works created from Aequorea Victoria jellyfish genes. Anker's fMRI Butterfly is comprised of overlapping MRI scans with the same butterfly and inkblot images to create an optical illusion where the identical butterflies look novel within each scan. Anker's work is a wonderful example of this integration, however I believe the pieces created from the jellyfish genes perfectly represent this integration. Researchers have tweaked the fluorescent green protein gene from these jellyfish and have successfully, and beautifully made brain cells glow in a "brainbow" of over 90 distinct colors. 


Anker, Suzanne, and Giovanni Frazzetto. "Neuroculture." Nature Reviews Neuroscience 10.11 (2009): 815-821. 

UC Desma. "Neuroscience-Mark Cohen." Cole UC online. YouTube, 12 May. 2012. Web. 15 May. 2016.

Vesna, Victoria. "Neuroscience-pt1." Cole UC online. YouTube, 17 May. 2012. Web. 15 May. 2016. 

Vesna, Victoria. "Neuroscience-pt2." Cole UC online. YouTube, 17 May. 2012. Web. 15 May. 2016.

Vesna, Victoria. "Neuroscience-pt3." Cole UC online. YouTube, 16 May. 2012. Web. 15 May. 2016. 

Wikipedia contributors. "Neuroscience." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 11 May. 2016. Web. 15 May. 2016. 

Debatty, Regine. fMRI Butterflies. Digital image. 16 Mar. 2007. Web. 15 May. 2016. <>

Dunn, Greg. Hippocampus II. Digital image. 2010. Web. 15 May. 2016. <> 

Van Mulukom, Valerie. Andy Warhol for Neuroscientists. Digital image. 20 Jul. 2011. Web. 15 May. 2016. <> 

Weissman, Tamily. Brainbow. Digital image. 20 Apr. 2015. Web. 15 May. 2016. <> 

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