2023 BrainArt Exhibit
The Multifaceted Brain: Adaptation and Diversity
The human desire for community and a sense of belonging has fascinated researchers for decades. Time and time again, studies have found that when individuals feel embraced by a community, the benefits for mental health are astounding. In fact, our need to belong is so strong that it seems to be hardwired into the human brain. Creating diverse and inclusive environments that promote such a sense of community is therefore imperative in our every-day lives. In neuroscience and other research disciplines, such environments are unfortunately not always provided, leaving underrepresented groups feeling alienated and unable to build a sense of belonging to the scientific community. This is despite the fact that diverse groups often yield more innovative ideas and solutions. With the 2023 Brain Art Exhibition and Competition, we propose to celebrate the many facets and diversities of the human brain, by acknowledging the need for reconciliation with underrepresented minorities who often experience isolation from the scientific community.
We envision an exhibition under the theme "The Multifaceted Brain: Adaptation and Diversity" and invite artists to explore the topic within one of three axes:
Axis I. Adaptation and diversity across cultures Human infants are born with the ability to discriminate between speech sounds of different languages. Eventually our brains become specialized to the sound we hear the most - our native tongue. As neural pathways corresponding to native phonemes are strengthened, those responding to foreign sounds are pruned. Similarly, sustained exposure to a set of cultural experiences, religious or spiritual practices and political beliefs will affect the brain's structure and function. In other words, the inputs that our brains receive shape how we experience the world around us. The first axis captures diversity across cultures, languages and belief systems. We dedicate it to the artists' interpretations whether they chose to portray the personal hardship experienced by different cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups or consider reconciliation through appreciation of the many diverse expressions and experiences of global communities.
Axis II. Diversity of human sexuality The human central nervous system is extremely complex with multiple levels of organisation that scientists study in specialised subfields from the molecular to the behavioural. The brains and spines of biological males and females are largely indistinguishable from each other but certain aspects are clearly dimorphic between the sexes: e.g., sex-specific behaviours and physiological responses (e.g. age-by-sex responses to oxytocin, etc.) resulting from different neuronal circuits and unique hormonal secretions. Some of these differences seem to be genetically driven while others likely result from environmental and cultural immersion. We invite artists to explore the biological, psychological, social or political aspects of either the similarities or the differences between the sexes. Although less is known about the neural correlates of gender identity and sexual orientation, artists may choose to examine these aspects as well.
Axis III. Neurodiversity A negative connotation is often attributed to the concept of neurodiversity, as a condition of “deficit”. However, diversity is present even in the absence of a disorder: there is significant variation among individuals in traits such as emotion regulation, introversion - extroversion, or tolerance to uncertainty. Moreover, research has shown that neurodiverse individuals, with, for example, autism spectrum disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), social anxiety, or dyslexia, can have above average skills in areas like pattern recognition, mathematics, or memory. Pioneering companies are recognizing that neurodiversity represents opportunities and have started to seek out “neurodiverse” talent. In the third axis, we invite artists to explore the hidden strengths of neurodiversity, such as innovations stemming from different ways of perceiving and engaging with the world or problem solving through creative thinking and alternative perspectives.
The exhibition will be held at the Organization Human Brain Mapping (OHBM) Conference between July 22-26 2023, in Montreal, Canada. In order to ensure a smooth execution of the event, we would like to keep to the following timeline.
We have selected the artworks for the exhibition and no longer accepted submissions this year. A full list of selected artists is as follows:
Congratulations to all selected artists and thank all artists who submitted their proposals! We look forward to holding a wonderful exhibition with these amazing artworks.