Science and Art to explore the brain
NeuroArt, teaching Science and Art together
Arts and Sciences are apparently far from each other but they can be quite close sometimes. Scientific dissemination and citizen science are paving the way for exploring the intersection between these different disciplines to discover and explore the interconnections, since true innovation and knowledge lies in these intersections. This is why the Institute of Neurosciences of the University of Barcelona, which received the María de Maeztu excellence award, collaborated with the Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit of the UB, the Faculty of Fine Arts of the UB and the Barcelona Contemporary Culture Centre (CCCB) to carry out the NeuroArt project. In order to reinforce the link between neuroscience and art, this project invites schools from all over Catalonia –nineteen schools and about a thousand students- so that they express different neuroscience concepts through works of art. Before the project starts, several neuroscientists from the Institute of Neurosciences go to these schools to talk about the scientific concepts they will later work on.
This initiative, which reaches its second edition, is done in collaboration with Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología (FECYT) – Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades, and the awards have been sponsored by CCCB, Pasqual Maragall Foundation, CosmoCaixa Barcelona and the Museum of Chocolate.
On March 12, representatives from every school that takes part in the project gathered in CCCB to describe their experiences in the Neuroart Gala and to present their works. The gala, held within the frame of the Brain Awareness Week, was a multidisciplinary event with the participation of the Brain Film Fest, an international film festival to promote audiovisual creation and talk about the brain.
After the presentation by José Pérez Ocaña, the event started with a welcoming by Tere Pérez, public relations of CCCB and coordinator of their Alzheimer Program, as well as Cristina Maragall, spokesperson of the Pasqual Maragall Foundation. Then, the director of the Institute of Neurosciences, Jordi Alberch, showed the audience “one of the best works of art in nature”: a human brain.
The activity reinforced once more the teaching values in a cross-sectional way. Apart from presenting their creations and learning from each other, participants explored themes such as fear or mental disorders with the Brain Film Fest short-films, in a cineforum with researchers from UBNeuro Esther Pérez and Sara Fernández. Last, researcher Esther Gratacós commented on the cultural view of art and science from an evolutionary perspective.
The high quality of the works and knowledge of the students proved there is a need to continue working on these initiatives and shape a society for which science and art are not distant disciplines. All works that were presented in the gala will be exhibited during the 5th Science Fest of the UB, to be held in the Historical Building of the University on May 17.
NeuroArt Gala Awards
The award to the best presentation was given to In your mind, with which the students of Jesús María Claudina school (Barcelona) show Zelig Syndrome, a disorder in which mirror neurons, whose cognitive function is linked to social behaviour and empathy, make people copy other people’s behaviour.
The piece La caixa dels sentits, by Institut de l’Alt Foix (Sant Martí Sarroca, Barcelona) won the award to the most creative and original piece. Through lights representing nervous impulses, this work shows what happens in the brain when people touch, smell, hear, see or taste something.
The award to the best artistic representation of neurosciences for 1st and 2nd grade of secondary education was given to the students of the Institut Ferran Casablancas (Sanadell) for their work Mirant pel microscopi: de Ramón y Cajal a l’actualitat, formed by two pieces that represent the before and after of microscope imaging techniques.
Escola Cooperativa El Puig (Esparreguera) won the award to the best artistic representation of neurosciences for 3rd and 4th grade of secondary education for the work Reacciona!, a video explaining the reactions of human beings to stimuli we receive when listening to different kinds of music (high and low).
All participating works can be seen here.