Thursday, September 21, 2006

Art of the Brain

That's the title of a wonderful set of workshops that I went to today at the DANA Center (more info here). They were run by a lady called Lizzie Burns - a biochemist turned artist (story about her on The Guardian here). Someone truly after my own heart, doing exactly the kind of thing I'd like to be doing.

Lizzie first started with showing us a selection of her own art work and then introducing us to a neuroscientist who explained to us about neurons and their function.

Workshop one: Draw a picture based on neurons, and your understanding of what they do and how your brain functions. I drew the picture on the right as a representation of how our brain cells sense touch and the response they might generate if you touched something sharp, or hot, or soft, or smooth, or cold, or functional (like a paintbrush!). People did all kinds of wonderful abstract pieces and it was a really joy to see them all (some fellow scientists and some not).

Then we all decamped to the studio where we were given this soft marshmallow-y play-doh like stuff to work with called "air-dough", and were introduced to ANOTHER neuroscientist.

Workshop two: Make a model of your brain! Basically the guy talked us through the 9 main sections of the brain, their function and what kinds of symptoms you get if those sections are damaged. We went through each section (with pictures!) in turn and modeled each section as we went along, building up to a model of the brain. (there was an option to do a 2-D or 3-D brain - I did both! Here are the (rather colourful) results.

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