Science Meets Art in New Kandel Book

Creativity (2).jpgWe don’t typically think of science and art as rooted in similar methodologies or techniques. Science is considered a strict, fact-based study of the world around us, while art is a no-rules expression of creativity. By thinking of the two disciplines as distinctly different, there has not been much study of their similarities.

Dana Alliance member Eric R. Kandel, M.D., noticed the lack of interdisciplinary study of artistic and scientific methodologies and used it as the foundation for his new book, Reductionism in Art and Brain Science: Bridging the Two Cultures. The book examines modern neuroscience alongside modern art, focusing on how both disciplines use reductive techniques. In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal about his book, Kandel said:

This is reductionism—to take a complex problem and select a central, but limited, component that you can study in depth. Rothko—only color. And yet the power it conveys is fantastic. Jackson Pollock got rid of all form.

[In neuroscience] you have to look at how behavior is changed by environmental experience…I began to realize we’ve got to find a very simple learning situation…I looked around for an animal that had the kind of [simple] nervous system I would like. Aplysia [has] the largest nerve cells in the animal kingdom.

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Art in the Lab

How do you envision the brain? Do you imagine a blue glowing brain or a brain-shaped computer, which graphic designers love? Or perhaps you think of more technical imagery, such as brain slices or an MRI? While the former are purely artistic and the latter are very scientific, neither group really translates the intricacy of the brain.

techbrains

Credit: Shutterstock

Greg Dunn, Ph.D., is trying to bridge the gap between these types of images by illustrating the complexity of the brain through artistic renderings on the cellular level. Dunn received his doctorate in neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania and now focuses on art full-time. On Wednesday, he shared his passion with the public at an Art in the Lab program at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, as part of Brain Awareness Week.

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Genius: Mind, Brain, and Molecules at the 92nd Street Y

What makes someone a genius? According to Nobel Laureate Eric R. Kandel, M.D., it is a person who is a “game-changer” and who “through their work, permanently changed the way we perceive the world.” It is less about IQ and more about “drive, persistence, and creativity.” At the 92nd Street Y’s third annual 7 Days of Genius in Manhattan, four eminent scientists, arguably geniuses themselves, discussed historical geniuses of the mind, brain, and molecules. The three speakers included two members of the Dana Alliance, Larry W. Swanson, Ph.D., and Thomas M. Jessell, Ph.D., as well as Robert Michels, M.D. Kandel, also a Dana Alliance member, moderated the event.

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BAW Partner Interview: Ana João Rodrigues

This is the second in a series of Brain Awareness Week partner interviews, in which partners share their BAW experiences and tips for planning successful events. Ana João Rodrigues, Ph.D.,  is a faculty investigator at ICVS, University of Minho, Braga, in Portugal, and the neuroscience outreach coordinator at ICVS. Rodrigues is also a Dana Alliance member.

Ana Joao Rodrigues

The University of Minho’s Brain Awareness Week (BAW) program draws hundreds of people to its events, ranging in age from young students to elderly people. Can you give an example of a well-received activity or topic for each age group?

BAW is one of the several programs our institute organizes every year to promote interest in science and to disseminate scientific knowledge. BAW initiatives include participants from 4 to 80 year olds, and more than 30 researchers!

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Neuroscience Presented with Creative Flair

Creativity (2).jpgWith Brain Awareness Week just over one week away, there are all kinds of contests taking place to help spread the word about the importance of brain research. Some combine creative flair with neuroscience to produce impressive results!

Last September, we announced the winners of the 2015 Brain Awareness Video Contest, sponsored by the Society for Neuroscience (SfN). The contest asks participants to “explain a neuroscience concept so that a broad audience can understand the wonders of the brain and mind.” Continue reading

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