I was very interested in discovering how people picture their mind, what it 'looks' like inside their head, so we created the opportunity for everyone to portray their 'sense of self' in the form of a simple sketch of their physical brain. The drawing tool is simple, intuitive, and easy to use. We did not want to influence creativity by adding images of real brains or neuroscience themes in the design of the brain drawing application. This way we thought we would leave the most room to imagination. The brain gallery is also very clean in terms of design so that all the drawings that are progressively added to the collection can be seen at once. Some drawings will not look like a brain at all...we'll see. As long as they are not obscene we will not reject them. Please help us identify inappropriate drawings so that we can keep the brain gallery clean and proper. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org to report any misuse of the application.
We encourage parents and teachers to use this tool to stimulate a candid expression of the child's inner mental world. Ask them to draw "what they feel is inside their head". Some will know that there is a brain in there, others will imagine their own mystery. I would like to build a collective representation of how young children develop a concrete image of their mind, before they are influenced by magazines and television, or before they are taught what a real brain looks like.
This project wasn't conceived as a scientific 'experiment,' rather it is meant to be a tool to investigate the relationship between brain and mind through introspection and art. Nevertheless, it may be interesting in the future to analyze the features contained in the drawings and to study how patterns and trends relate to basic demographic information.
I receive many inquiries from people in the US, Canada, and Europe on how they could bequest their brains to The Brain Observatory and become part of The Digital Brain Library. Naturally, these generous enthusiasts are not keen on giving their real brains for the time being. This application is an innocuous and fun way in which they can 'send me their brains', but in abstract form. This project may also help raise awareness of brain donation and the importance of public engagement in Science.
I hope that many will join this initiative, imagining their brains and drawing their inner self-portrait! All the pictures will be combined into a beautiful and insightful mosaic of the human mind.
Dr. Jacopo Annese
Concept and design by Jacopo Annese. The application and web design were developed by Artur Vittori Manukian during his fellowship at The Brain Observatory in August and September 2011. Dr. Hauke Bartsch, senior software engineer at The Brain Observatory, helped with many fuctional aspects of the site.
The display of the gallery was inspired by Aaron Koblin's Sheep Market project. Jacopo Annese and Aaron Koblin met in July 2010 at the Esquire Magazine's Best and Brightest meeting in New York (thank you Esquire Magazine for bringing us together). J.A. and A.V.M. wish to thank Fabrizio Scippa for his expert comments on the design and functionality of the application.