Posted in communication and networking, design and architecture, medical imaging

How artists tap into the brain’s emotional side

the-crucifixionIn the spirit of Christmas, a very interesting article on how artists who have portrayed Jesus, both during the crucifixion and often just general paintings of him, showed the left side of his face most often, and why that matters:

Fifteen hundred years ago, in the region that is modern-day Syria, a scribe drew a scene depicting the crucifixion of Christ. Before or after he conjured the mountains, the cross and the executioners, he drew Jesus’ face turned to the right, his left cheek toward the viewer.

Fast forward a thousand years to Europe and we find the German painter and politician Albrecht Altdorfer departing from convention by depicting the crucifixion of Christ on the shore of a river. When it came to Jesus’ face, however, Altdorfer was more conformist, painting his head turned to the right, left cheek towards the viewer.

These painters noticed, perhaps subconsciously, that the expression of emotion is more intense via the left side of the face, and therefore they chose to depict Jesus with that side of his face on display.

By making Jesus’ left-cheek prominent, crucifixion artists may have taken unknowing advantage of other facts from neuroscience too. With his head turned to the right, Jesus’ face will be processed mostly by the viewer’s right hemisphere – the side of the brain that is preferentially activated when interpreting emotion, especially negative emotion. There’s even research suggesting that turning the head to one side activates the brain hemisphere on the opposite side. “Since the left hemisphere mediates positive emotions and the right negative emotions, the rotation of Christ’s head during the crucifixion may have helped reduce his suffering,” write Acosta and her colleagues.

Read more…

Posted in biology, chemistry, communication and networking, medical imaging

How Studying Art Improves Doctor Training

Quinnipiac University's Arnold Bernhard Librar...
Quinnipiac University’s Arnold Bernhard Library and clock tower, with Sleeping Giant in background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Forbes:

Previous experience with critical thinking in the sciences (left brain) has been a common theme for perceived success in medicine. Sprinkled with these important traits and skills, it turns out that the value of a humanities background, emphasizing more “right brain” characteristics (including imagery, poetry and drawing) may actually hold greater value in the eyes of some experts.

Being accepted into medical school used to mean selecting time-honored disciplines such as biology or chemistry, taking a more traditional route as a “pre-med” to gain entrance. The goal was to be the most prepared for the onslaught of biochemistry, pharmacology, anatomy and science-related material that has traditionally permeated the first several years of medical school, prior to the transition to formal clerkships.

In the past two decades, however, with the advent of the problem based learning promoted through Harvard Medical School, along with an earlier exposure to seeing patients in various electives, the traditional pre-med student that admission committees use to seek out has begun to change.

As medical schools have become more innovative, and as their approach to training medical students has evolved–as evidenced by new and progressive schools such as the Frank H. Netter School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University—having a strictly science-related background may not be the only way to increase the probability of gaining entrance.

Dr. Salvatore Mangione, Associate Professor of Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University, and a master of artistic expression and physical diagnosis feels that such alternative artistic and visual skills may enhance the ability of a student to excel in medical school and become a successful physician in practice. Dr. Mangione also serves as Director of the Physical Diagnosis Course as well as the History of Medicine Course at Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University.

In his view, medical students with a more diverse background, which could include artistic and visual skills may potentially hold an edge in today’s selection process.

It seems that students with more “right brain” qualities–related to imagery, visual and drawing skills–have begun to emerge as more successful in today’s digital, image-based world of medicine.

“More and more, the data are quite convincing that people that think in pictures may actually have greater innovation and greater creativity than people who think in words.” says Dr. Mangione.

Read the whole article.

Posted in biology, chemistry, medical imaging

Photos of the Amazing and Gruesome World Under a Microscope

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be small? Really, really small?

needle and thread

Moth wing

io9 has gathered a spectacular collection of microscopic images from all over the Internet. Check out more via Photos of the Amazing and Gruesome World Under a Microscope.

Posted in communication and networking, design and architecture, electronic imaging and displays, medical imaging

Artist Creates Modern Venus de Milo Using Google Images and 3-D Printing | Wired Design |

Using Google Image Search, and a 3D printer:

3-D printers are changing the way we think about manufacturing everything from medical devices to firearms, but artists are just beginning to explore their artistic potential. Bathsheba Grossman prints fractal paperweights and Cosmo Wenman 3-D scans priceless objects in museums, but in both cases the printers are being used more as production tools than a part of the creative process. Matthew Plummer-Fernandez believes the technology can do more, and his latest work, a sort of Venus de Milo for the MakerBot Age, is just one glimpse of 3-D printing’s expressive potential.

more via Artist Creates Modern Venus de Milo Using Google Images and 3-D Printing | Wired Design |

Posted in biology, medical imaging, museum, Uncategorized

Post-modern, paleontological art Boing Boing recently posted a story about the work of Michael Bahl.

Dressed in a white lab coat, Bahl bills his work as "post-osteological interpretation." Basically, he’s built both skeletal monsters, and an ostensibly real research history to go with them. This creature, for instance, is a Chalicotherium laurentian. She is an adult female, part of a trio of fossil animals that includes an adult male and a juvenile. Here’s Bahl’s statement on the C. laurentian family.

Discovered in 1887 by Harold Vanselow, a maverick dinosaur hunter and at one time a member of the Othniel Charles Marsh team from the Yale Peabody Museum, this Chalacothere was named appropriately enough after the Laurentian Divide in Northern Minnesota where tributaries of the St. Lawrence River divide and flow in two directions.

Dating from the Miocene era, the bones of these creatures retain the rich, deep color of the Iron Range where they once roamed in large herds. The purpose of the male’s secondary head has been much debated, some experts believing it to be fully functional while others maintain it was most probably used in the mating ritual.

Research indicates that the family grouping seen here was first exhibited in the late 19th Century at a private museum in London and assembled by Walter Vernon, the well-known enfant terrible of those early years of prehistoric osteological display. Vernon’s philosophy was explained in a lengthy article which appeared in 1901. He stated that he felt his specimens acknowledged not only the accurate presentation of a skeleton, but the millions of years that the bones had been part of the earth itself and the impact the internment had on them. "Tribute must be paid to the beauty given to these beasts by the greatest of artists — time."

The exhibit caused a furor in scientific circles largely because no other specimens or even fragments had been unearthed. It was both hailed as a work of art and villified as "expressionistic". Matters were complicated further by the disappearance of Vanselow’s notebooks and meticulously detailed maps. The exhibit vanished in 1904 after fire destroyed the hall in which it was housed, and as if by unspoken agreement it was quietly forgotten.

Then, in 1994, the bones were rediscovered embedded in the foundation of a home in South St. Paul, Minnesota. They had been packed in crates originating in Prague circa 1914 and, since the house had been built in 1939, it is not known where the remains of this might species had been kept. Although some structural repairs were necessary, the specimens are otherwise presented here in the splendidly ancient condition in which they were found.

Posted in communication and networking, electronic imaging and displays, medical imaging, music

How the brain reacts to music, improv

Great talk by Charles Limb about the way musical creativity works in the brain.

In one experiment,

Limb put jazz musicians and rappers in an fMRI to find out. What he and his team found has deep implications for our understanding of creativity of all kinds.

Music so often is studied as a learning aid, “music helps you learn Math,” other languages, and so on. But it’s refreshing to see how music and creativity are amazing all by themselves.

Posted in aerospace, astronomy, biology, communication and networking, electronic imaging and displays, engineering, medical imaging

$10 Million X-Prize for team who develops working Tricorder


I LOVE when Science Fiction becomes Science Fact! I was also a huge fan of Star Trek as a kid, so the idea that the Tricorder could become a reality is really exciting to me:

Wireless company Qualcomm has joined forces with the X-Prize Foundation to sponsor an X-Prize to create the first functional tricorder.

The tricorder, for the non-geek reader of ReadWriteWeb (is there such at thing?) is the handheld computer used by medical professionals and science officers to do non-invasive scanning on the Star Trek television shows. The prize will focus on the medical applications of this fictional device.

more via $10 Million Tricorder X-Prize.