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Art of Neuroscience 2020

You can visit our online gallery to browse through other entries, or download a compilation of all entries with full descriptions as a PDF here or PPTX here.


Lidija Kononenko
Royal Academy of Arts, London

2020 Winner


The jury praises the interactivity and playful combination of imagery of a human peripheral nerve with a text-based story that unfolds at various scales and highlights the role of the nervous system in the human condition.

The interactive work can be viewed here:

31-3594 is a microscope specimen, a map of symptoms, and an investigation of the unknown. As the web page is loaded, a small pink speck appears with a magnification function. With each click a scan of peripheral nerve reveals more of itself, filling the screen with text layered over it. Like other microscopic images, this scan is distributed across screens, whilst anonymised by law.

Pierced through light, the subject is known through vision with an unknown history. The medical image is an evidence of the body, health and pathology. Recordings allow absence of the person, substituting them with representation of the mass. To read the text the piece demands the viewer to search the specimen closely, finding the other’s symptoms. The writing is fragmented, exploring sleep as a voluntary act of losing one’s own consciousness.

As sleep is still largely an uncharted territory for science, the writing utilises the contradictions in linguistic analysis, and thus asking – what can a picture of a cross-sectioned nerve tell us about falling asleep?

This work was made with help of Light Microscopy Core Facility, UCL, ICH. It can be embedded on any website.

Motor white matter networks of the human brain

Sanja Budisavljevic
University of St. Andrews

2020 Honorable Mention

The  jury loved the combination of the 19th century anatomical drawing with modern day computer rendered tractography. The similarities in fiber tract bundles are striking and the colors of the rendered image were well chosen to match the black and white drawing.

One of the greatest scientific challenges of the 21st century is mapping the neural pathways that underlie brain function and behaviour. The recent advent of diffusion MR imaging technique provided the means to do that in a living human brain. This breakthrough parallels the one from the 19th century and human post-mortem dissections, when most of the major neural pathways were described.

The image shows human white matter pathways (in colour) important for sensory–motor processing and visualised using diffusion MR technology. These are superimposed on a shaded black and white 19th century drawing based on a post-mortem dissection by Mr. Mayo and Mr. Rowlands, published in ““A series of engravings intended to illustrate the structure of the brain and spinal chord in man” (1827), Burgess and Hill, London.

Connections from the cortex to the spinal cord are shown in red (corona radiata), from the pons to the cerebellum in green, and intra-cerebellar fibers are shown in blue.

Motor White Networks

Red Haze

Nicki Coveña 
University of Amsterdam

2020 Honorable Mention


The  jury was reminded of scenes from the book Solaris, the science fiction novel by Stanislaw Lem, or the visual renditions by Tarkovsky. The out-of-focus view makes one guess at what details are hidden below.

The image shows expression of TBR1, a transcription factor protein important in vertebrate embryo development. A fluorescent protein tag allowed inspection of TBR1 in the embryonic mouse cortex.

Red Haze


Frank Gerritse & Janna de Boer
UMC Utrecht

2020 Honorable Mention 

The  jury was impressed by the originality of this entry. The associated website astutely emulates the feeling of loss of control during auditory hallucinations with frantic background chatter and the ability to use the voice and mouse cursor to control the chatter and hallucinogenic poetry. It is an unsettling, provocative and unique submission.

Psychoetry is a dynamic interactive poem based on auditory verbal hallucinations (voices). The lines of the poems contain actual hallucinations as reported by forty people who hear voices on a regular basis. For detailed information on the project see the brochure:

For a full experience of the project, please visit the project website:


Pamela Simard
Montréal, Quebec

2020 Honorable Mention

The jury was intrigued by the alien and organic shapes. The artist made objects that are beautiful to look at while also reflecting actual synaptic configurations in the nervous system of an insect.

The work is a collaborative project with Hunter Shaw at McGill University.

The various installations were created from fluorescent microscopy images representing the visual system of the fruit fly brain, and more precisely, the synaptic connections formed by adhesion molecules. Through the analysis of these images, the project aims to recreate the materialized process with sculpture. Every piece of the installation was made by hand.

A fundamental element shared by the artistic and scientific representations is their sensitivity towards detail, which translates into a much deeper knowledge. It allows new methodologies to develop and to understand the limitations of materials that both the artist and the scientist are faced with. It is a process of rupture, progress and transition that allows for a full appreciation of all of its complexity.

For more details visit: