The Near-Sighted Monkey
From the July 18, 2013 Image Lab field trip to the Madison Children’s Museum, to see an exhibit of images of the brain and the mind made by kids.
Julianna, Eagle School
"In this picture, titled "The Amygdala & Prefrontal Cortex", a girl and a cat represent the prefrontal cortex and amygdala. When the amygdala acts up, you feel scared. The prefrontal cortex calms the amygdala."

From the July 18, 2013 Image Lab field trip to the Madison Children’s Museum, to see an exhibit of images of the brain and the mind made by kids.

Julianna, Eagle School

"In this picture, titled "The Amygdala & Prefrontal Cortex", a girl and a cat represent the prefrontal cortex and amygdala. When the amygdala acts up, you feel scared. The prefrontal cortex calms the amygdala."

Today’s Image Lab field trip: Angela Richardson and Professor Long-Title go to the Madison Children’s Museum to see kids making visual images of the brain and mind.
"Brain Art" by Rhys Enderle, age 14, Eagle School
"The whole shape is the brain, while the yellow center is the center of thought. All the thoughts, the good, (pink) and the bad (black) ripple outwards"

Today’s Image Lab field trip: Angela Richardson and Professor Long-Title go to the Madison Children’s Museum to see kids making visual images of the brain and mind.

"Brain Art" by Rhys Enderle, age 14, Eagle School

"The whole shape is the brain, while the yellow center is the center of thought. All the thoughts, the good, (pink) and the bad (black) ripple outwards"

Angela Richardson is the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery’s Image Lab’s first artist in residence and investigator. She’s working on a project about how we visualize the brain and the mind. Walk-ins welcome! University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mon-Weds 10-2, Tues-Thurs 2-6

Angela Richardson is the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery’s Image Lab’s first artist in residence and investigator. She’s working on a project about how we visualize the brain and the mind. Walk-ins welcome! University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mon-Weds 10-2, Tues-Thurs 2-6

thegreatravelledknot:

Travelling sparks hurrying hither and tither

I’ve continued to contemplate Sherrington’s beautiful quote about the brain. I decided to write it out longhand in continuous cursive on a window of The Image Lab. Wanting to make a drawing to accompany it I found a diagram of "overlapping neuronal fields" attributed to Sherrington on the UIC website. Searching further I found a photo by Schutz on wiki showing the stained glass window at Cambridge made in Sherrington’s honor. I like this image very much and made several iterations of it myself - on the window, on the whiteboard wall, on paper.

What happens when you re-draw (or trace or color in) someone else’s drawing? Is it like re-telling a joke you heard? How is re-drawing a drawing different than just looking at it? What happens in your hands when you do? What happens in your brain?

I think that by re-drawing a drawing my body gains some understanding of an image that I cannot have just by looking. There is something unique to be discovered in the tracing of lines and making of marks that can’t be known any other way. It’s something like the difference between merely watching a dance and actually trying to dance the steps yourself.

Image sources: the original diagram is from “Sherrington’s Ferrier lecture, 1929” and posted on UIC’s Dept of Neurology website. Stained glass window photo is by author [wikipedia] User:Schutz. Permission (Reusing this file) Creative Commons-by-sa 2.5 “The stained glass was designed by Maria McClafferty and installed in 1992–1992.”

We found these images after we started thinking about a question posed by “What It Is” alumni, Angela Richardson  and Meridith Beck Sayer

When we picture the mind and the brain what do we see? Where do those images come from? What are they based on?

They’re working on a project called “IN THE MIND’S EYE”. about the history of visual representations of brain and the mind. It’s coming to The Image Lab, University of Wisconsin-Madison, during the month of July.

Near-Sighted Monkey Lounge heartthrob Eric Kandel talks about creativity and hemispheric differences of the brain.

On February 27, 2013, students in Lynda Barry’s  “Unthinkable Mind” class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison were given a piece of paper and a flair pen and asked to draw a picture that they couldn’t see. Professor Old Skull was the only one who could see the picture, and she described it line by line, asking them to draw along with the description. What happened? The picture Professor Old Skull was describing appears at the end of the video.

On Monday, March 4th——
Log on to hear the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Dr. Davidson’s talk on Monday, March 4th. It’s free. 
Join Dr. Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, and 31 inspiring meditation experts and luminaries for a FREE online conference, “Be the Change Meditation,” next week.  Don’t miss Dr. Davidson’s talk, “The  Meditating Brain”, on Monday, March 4 at 6pm CST, which will touch on:  -How meditation impacts mental and emotional circuits -The three types of meditation and how each affects the brain differently -His research that found that 30 minutes of daily practice for 2 weeks can produce profound and discernible changes in the brain  Click here to register

On Monday, March 4th——

Log on to hear the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Dr. Davidson’s talk on Monday, March 4th. It’s free.

Join Dr. Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, and 31 inspiring meditation experts and luminaries for a FREE online conference, “Be the Change Meditation,” next week.

Don’t miss Dr. Davidson’s talk, “The  Meditating Brain”, on Monday, March 4 at 6pm CST, which will touch on:

-How meditation impacts mental and emotional circuits
-The three types of meditation and how each affects the brain differently
-His research that found that 30 minutes of daily practice for 2 weeks can produce profound and discernible changes in the brain


  Click here to register

Dear Unthinkable Mind Students,

Here’s the handout from Wednesday’s class. There is a storm coming. Draw and watercolor some fire if you get cold.

We didn’t get to all of the things on the agenda on Wednesday’s class so there is no four panel drawing. Instead I handed back the drawings you’ve done since January 24th and asked you to cut them up and paste them into your composition notebooks using white school glue and your bone folder to flatten the image you glue.

Please disregard the part of the handout that that says “Cut and paste 4 pages” —- we’ll get to this next week.

Links to things we watched and heard during Wednesday’s class

The Mystery of Memory -  at Nobelprize.org

The Neuroscience of Your Brain on Fiction - NYTimes.com

Remembering the past to imagine the future: Nature.com Neuroscience

Brain Scans Of The Future — Psychologists Use fMRI To Understand ties between memories and the imagination

See you Monday,

Professor Old Skull

Dear Unthinkable Mind Class,

Here are some of the three demon heads you colored while watching and listening to various presentations about hemispheric differences in the brain.

And these are some of the things from the ‘test’ we took on what you remembered about Iain McGilchrist’s work.

I’m looking forward to speaking to each of you one on one in the next two days.

Love from,

Professor Lynda (AKA “Old Skull”)

Question: Can something as simple as coloring a picture increase our ability to sustain an open sort of concentration and remember more of what we’ve heard?

Answer: Scientific research says YES.

Read: Doodling and the default network of the brain (Lancet)
And: “Doodling may help memory recall” (BBC)

How does the human brain keep track of time? Short interview with Luke Jones from the University of Manchester.

University of Manchester School of Psychological Sciences: http://www.psych-sci.manchester.ac.uk/

Videos by Brady Haran
http://www.bradyharan.com/

Extra credit question for Unthinkable Mind students: What is Luke Jones doing with his hands (starting at about 2:45) while he explains how we experience duration of time? Why might he be doing this? If you turned the sound off, and all you could see here his hands, what would you think he was talking about? What would you think he was feeling right then?

This is a letter from Lynda Barry to the students in The Unthinkable Mind which begins on January 23, 2013 at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. The class is composed of 21 graduate and undergraduate students; eight with interests in the sciences, eight with interests in the humanities, and five wild cards.

It’s a writing and picture-making class with focus on the basic physical structure of the brain with emphasis on hemispheric differences and a particular sort of insight and creative concentration that seems to come about when we are using our hands (-the original digital devices) —to help us figure out a problem.

No artistic talent is required to be part of this class, but students must have an active interest in learning about the physical structure of the brain, how memory, metaphor, pictures and stories work together, the relationship between our hands and thinking, and what the biological function of the thing we call ‘the arts’ may be.

This is a rigorous class with a substantial workload. Along with twice weekly writing, picture making, and memorization assignments, students will be required to complete a handmade book using visual and written elements by the end of the semester.

Before the first meeting, students will have read the introduction to Iain McGilchrist’s book on the brain’s hemispheric differences, “The Master and His Emissary” (Download Introduction) and will have memorized Emily Dickinson’s poem number 937

I felt a Cleaving in my Mind —
As if my Brain had split —
I tried to match it — Seam by Seam —
But could not make it fit.

The thought behind, I strove to join
Unto the thought before —
But Sequence raveled out of Sound
Like Balls — upon a Floor.

Class activities, assignments and relevant material will be posted on this tumblr page throughout the semester.

SOURCE: Nature.com

The split brain: A tale of two halves
In the first months after her surgery, shopping for groceries was infuriating. Standing in the supermarket aisle, Vicki would look at an item on the shelf and know that she wanted to place it in her trolley — but she couldn’t. “I’d reach with my right for the thing I wanted, but the left would come in and they’d kind of fight,” she says. “Almost like repelling magnets.” Picking out food for the week was a two-, sometimes three-hour ordeal. Getting dressed posed a similar challenge: Vicki couldn’t reconcile what she wanted to put on with what her hands were doing. Sometimes she ended up wearing three outfits at once. “I’d have to dump all the clothes on the bed, catch my breath and start again.”
In one crucial way, however, Vicki was better than her pre-surgery self. She was no longer racked by epileptic seizures that were so severe they had made her life close to unbearable. She once collapsed onto the bar of an old-fashioned oven, burning and scarring her back. “I really just couldn’t function,” she says. When, in 1978, her neurologist told her about a radical but dangerous surgery that might help, she barely hesitated. If the worst were to happen, she knew that her parents would take care of her young daughter. “But of course I worried,” she says. “When you get your brain split, it doesn’t grow back together.”
In June 1979, in a procedure that lasted nearly 10 hours, doctors created a firebreak to contain Vicki’s seizures by slicing through her corpus callosum, the bundle of neuronal fibres connecting the two sides of her brain. This drastic procedure, called a corpus callosotomy, disconnects the two sides of the neocortex, the home of language, conscious thought and movement control. Vicki’s supermarket predicament was the consequence of a brain that behaved in some ways as if it were two separate minds.
After about a year, Vicki’s difficulties abated. “I could get things together,” she says. For the most part she was herself: slicing vegetables, tying her shoe laces, playing cards, even waterskiing.
But what Vicki could never have known was that her surgery would turn her into an accidental superstar of neuroscience. She is one of fewer than a dozen ‘split-brain’ patients, whose brains and behaviours have been subject to countless hours of experiments, hundreds of scientific papers, and references in just about every psychology textbook of the past generation. And now their numbers are dwindling.
Through studies of this group, neuroscientists now know that the healthy brain can look like two markedly different machines, cabled together and exchanging a torrent of data. But when the primary cable is severed, information — a word, an object, a picture — presented to one hemisphere goes unnoticed in the other. Michael Gazzaniga, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the godfather of modern split-brain science, says that even after working with these patients for five decades, he still finds it thrilling to observe the disconnection effects first-hand. “You see a split-brain patient just doing a standard thing — you show him an image and he can’t say what it is. But he can pull that same object out of a grab-bag,” Gazzaniga says. “Your heart just races!”
Continue reading

thanks to neurosciencestuff for bringing this article to our attention

SOURCE: Nature.com

The split brain: A tale of two halves

In the first months after her surgery, shopping for groceries was infuriating. Standing in the supermarket aisle, Vicki would look at an item on the shelf and know that she wanted to place it in her trolley — but she couldn’t. “I’d reach with my right for the thing I wanted, but the left would come in and they’d kind of fight,” she says. “Almost like repelling magnets.” Picking out food for the week was a two-, sometimes three-hour ordeal. Getting dressed posed a similar challenge: Vicki couldn’t reconcile what she wanted to put on with what her hands were doing. Sometimes she ended up wearing three outfits at once. “I’d have to dump all the clothes on the bed, catch my breath and start again.”

In one crucial way, however, Vicki was better than her pre-surgery self. She was no longer racked by epileptic seizures that were so severe they had made her life close to unbearable. She once collapsed onto the bar of an old-fashioned oven, burning and scarring her back. “I really just couldn’t function,” she says. When, in 1978, her neurologist told her about a radical but dangerous surgery that might help, she barely hesitated. If the worst were to happen, she knew that her parents would take care of her young daughter. “But of course I worried,” she says. “When you get your brain split, it doesn’t grow back together.”

In June 1979, in a procedure that lasted nearly 10 hours, doctors created a firebreak to contain Vicki’s seizures by slicing through her corpus callosum, the bundle of neuronal fibres connecting the two sides of her brain. This drastic procedure, called a corpus callosotomy, disconnects the two sides of the neocortex, the home of language, conscious thought and movement control. Vicki’s supermarket predicament was the consequence of a brain that behaved in some ways as if it were two separate minds.

After about a year, Vicki’s difficulties abated. “I could get things together,” she says. For the most part she was herself: slicing vegetables, tying her shoe laces, playing cards, even waterskiing.

But what Vicki could never have known was that her surgery would turn her into an accidental superstar of neuroscience. She is one of fewer than a dozen ‘split-brain’ patients, whose brains and behaviours have been subject to countless hours of experiments, hundreds of scientific papers, and references in just about every psychology textbook of the past generation. And now their numbers are dwindling.

Through studies of this group, neuroscientists now know that the healthy brain can look like two markedly different machines, cabled together and exchanging a torrent of data. But when the primary cable is severed, information — a word, an object, a picture — presented to one hemisphere goes unnoticed in the other. Michael Gazzaniga, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the godfather of modern split-brain science, says that even after working with these patients for five decades, he still finds it thrilling to observe the disconnection effects first-hand. “You see a split-brain patient just doing a standard thing — you show him an image and he can’t say what it is. But he can pull that same object out of a grab-bag,” Gazzaniga says. “Your heart just races!”

Continue reading

thanks to neurosciencestuff for bringing this article to our attention

From “What It Is” by Lynda Barry, who will be teaching an Art/Science/English class next Spring Semester at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
About the class:
THE UNTHINKABLE MIND 
Art 469 —-English/Creative writing 307 —— Science (Course number to come)
Spring 2013
Day: Mon/Weds
Time: 1:20 -3:50
Location: 6261 Humanities 
Limit: 20 Students, composed of eight students whose main interests are in the Humanities, eight students whose main interests are in the Sciences, and four wild cards.
Credits 3-4
Instructor: Lynda Barry
A writing and picture-making class with focus on the basic physical structure of the brain with emphasis on hemispheric differences and a particular sort of insight and creative concentration that seems to come about when we are using our hands (-the original digital devices) —to help us figure out a problem.
No artistic talent is required to be part of this class, but students must have an active interest in learning about the physical structure of the brain, how memory, metaphor, pictures and stories work together, the relationship between our hands and thinking, and what the biological function of the thing we call ‘the arts’ may be.
To apply….

From “What It Is” by Lynda Barry, who will be teaching an Art/Science/English class next Spring Semester at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

About the class:

THE UNTHINKABLE MIND 

Art 469 —-English/Creative writing 307 —— Science (Course number to come)

Spring 2013

Day: Mon/Weds

Time: 1:20 -3:50

Location: 6261 Humanities

Limit: 20 Students, composed of eight students whose main interests are in the Humanities, eight students whose main interests are in the Sciences, and four wild cards.

Credits 3-4

Instructor: Lynda Barry

A writing and picture-making class with focus on the basic physical structure of the brain with emphasis on hemispheric differences and a particular sort of insight and creative concentration that seems to come about when we are using our hands (-the original digital devices) —to help us figure out a problem.

No artistic talent is required to be part of this class, but students must have an active interest in learning about the physical structure of the brain, how memory, metaphor, pictures and stories work together, the relationship between our hands and thinking, and what the biological function of the thing we call ‘the arts’ may be.

To apply….

Above: “Beatrice Addressing Dante” circa 1824 by William Blake; painter, poet, print-maker; London, England 

Below: “And Everything is Back to Normal” 2012 by Andy,  2nd Grader, Franklin Elementary school; Madison, Wisconsin

SPECIAL SPRING 2013 COURSE ANNOUNCEMENT FOR STUDENTS CURRENTLY ENROLLED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON

The Unthinkable Mind

Instructor: Lynda Barry

Day: Mon/Weds

Time: 1:20 -3:50

Location: Humanities Building

Limit: 20 Students

Credits 3-4

Cross-listed  as Art 469/ English 307 /Science (Course number to come)

A writing and picture-making class with focus on the basic physical structure of the brain with emphasis on hemispheric differences and a particular sort of insight and creative concentration that seems to come about when we are using our hands (-the original digital devices) —to help us figure out a problem.

No artistic talent is required to be part of this class, but students must have an active interest in learning about the physical structure of the brain, how memory, metaphor, pictures and stories work together, the relationship between our hands and thinking, and what the biological function of the thing we call ‘the arts’ may be.

This is a rigorous class with a substantial workload. Along with twice weekly writing, picture making, and memorization assignments, students will be required to complete a handmade book using visual and written elements by the end of the semester.

Although this class is open to both graduate and undergraduate students from all academic disciplines, priority will be given to Art, Science, and English students currently enrolled at the University of Wisconsin.

Applications for the class will be accepted either in person or by mail until 3:00 PM THURSDAY DECEMBER 5th. No electronic submissions will be accepted, but students will receive an email confirmation that their application has been received. The class list will be announced on Wednesday, December 12th.

The Unthinkable Mind 2013 c/o UW-Madison Art Department
6241 Humanities Building
455 North Park Street
Madison, WI  53706

All applications must be formatted exactly as follows to be considered:  typed, double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman with standard margins, black ink on regular white paper, no longer than 4 single-sided pages, stapled in the upper left hand corner.

Prospective students should answer each of the questions below without putting too much thought into it. The first answers that come to mind are the ones I’m most interested in.

Questions for Students Applying to “The Unthinkable Mind”

 1. Full Name:

 2. Student ID Number (10 digits,  no dashes or spaces)

 3. Email address: (please use your wisc.edu email address)

 4. Degree program or area of study and year  (eg BFA, Dance, Junior)

 5. This course is offered through different departments. Select the department through which you would like to take the course.

 6. Art 469 —-English/Creative writing 307 —— Science (Course number to come)

 7. What classes did you take during Fall Semester of 2012? Why?

 8. What classes will you be taking  Spring Semester of 2013? Why?

 9. What were some of the books you read as a kid?

10. What were some of the games you played?

11. What were some of your favorite fictional characters when you were growing up. (These can be any kind of fictional characters at all, from literary to cartoon to video game characters.)

 12. Who was your favorite elementary school teacher? Why?

 13. Who was your least favorite elementary school teacher? Why?

 14. Was there an object or thing disturbed you as a kid? Why?

 15. Was there an object or thing that did the opposite for you? Why?

 16. Was there something you made by hand as a kid that frustrated you?

 17. Was there something you made by hand as a kid that made you happy?

 19. What was your least favorite kind of fictional creature?

 20. What would be your least favorite kind of fictional environment?

 21. How do you feel about writing by hand?