Portraits of the Mind: A Brief History of Visualizing the Brain
By Maria Popova
Few projects embody the fertile cross-pollination of art and science more beautifully than Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century (public library) — a book that sources its material in science, roots its aesthetic in art, and reads like a literary anthology, is making us swoon in all kinds of ways. Author Carl Schoonover explores — in breathtaking visual detail — the evolution of humanity’s understanding of the brain, from Medieval sketches to Victorian medical engravings to today’s most sophisticated 3D neuroimaging.
Schoonover curates images that come from data laboratories around the world, many of which are revealed to the world for the first time, contextualized through essays by leading scientists.
The foreword by Jonah Lehrer, one of our favorite science-distillers, only adds to the tome’s already irresistable allure.
While the history of brain research seems to be an extended exercise in Socratic the-more-we-learn-the-more-we-learn-how-little-we-know, Portraits of the Mind constructs a thrilling frame for hope in neuroscience by making the scientific understanding of the human brain both exciting and accessible, a digestible deluge of visual and intellectual fascination.
Images via The Atlantic
Published November 1, 2010