A few days ago, the New York Times reviewed what looks to be both a beautiful and fascinating book for brain fans: Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century. This is an art book featuring images of the brain, its neurons and structures along with commentary from neuroscientists and Carl Schoonover, the book’s author and a neuroscience PhD candidate from Columbia University.
As both a photography and brain enthusiast, I was intrigued by the review. We often struggle to find appealing images of the brain for our work here at Posit Science. I confess to being the person at the table who frequently comments on what an ugly organ the brain is. The Times article pointed out that I’m not alone; Aristotle believed the rational soul existed in the heart and the brain’s coils served only to cool that more important organ.
Schoonover, however, finds beauty in his work and walks the talk. As the Times reports, “his wallet held snapshots not of friends or family, but of particularly attractive neurons.” Not only are the images dazzling but the stories are too. One of the images of a fuzzy smiley face is from a monkey’s brain. The image captures the moment when the blood vessels supplying visual nerve cells swelled in the smiley face pattern as the monkey viewed the image. Talk about seeing what’s on someone’s mind!
If you’re looking to give a smart, thought provoking gift this holiday season, consider Schoonover’s book. You might find yourself seeing the brain in a whole new way.
View more recommended brain books on our site.