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Thursday, July 2, 2009

This Is Your Brain On Paint; Or Perhaps Not

Jessica Palmer writes

I’m skeptical of a recent paper by four UK scientists, resurrecting an idea nearly two decades old: that Renaissance painters planted hidden neuroanatomical imagery in their paintings.

This idea apparently originated with gynecologist Frank Meshberger. In 1990, Meshberger proposed that Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel fresco, The Creation of Adam, represents a midsaggital view of the human brain. He argued that the prominent violet oval of God’s billowing cloak outlines the cerebrum, the bump in the front is the Sylvian fissure, and the dangling angels’ legs depict the pituitary and spinal cord. The foot of the frontmost angel is strangely shaped - Meshberger calls it “bifid” - which is consistent with a bilobed pituitary.



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