“The brain is a world consisting of a number of unexplored continents and great stretches of unknown territory.”

–Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Spanish, scientist, pathologist, neuroscientist, and Nobel laureate


Santiago Ramón y Cajal posing for Agustín Querol. Madrid, 1906

At the crossroads of art and science, Beautiful Brain  presents Nobel Laureate Santiago Ramón y Cajal’s contributions to neuroscience through his groundbreaking artistic brain imagery.

Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852–1934) was the father of modern neuroscience and an exceptional artist. He devoted his life to the anatomy of the brain, the body’s most complex and mysterious organ. His superhuman feats of visualization, based on fanatically precise techniques and countless hours at the microscope, resulted in some of the most remarkable illustrations in the history of science. Beautiful Brain presents a selection of his exquisite drawings of brain cells, brain regions, and neural circuits with accessible descriptive commentary.

These drawings are explored from multiple perspectives: Larry W. Swanson describes Cajal’s contributions to neuroscience; Lyndel King and Eric Himmel explore his artistic roots and achievement; Eric A. Newman provides commentary on the drawings; and Janet M. Dubinsky describes contemporary neuroscience imaging techniques. This book is the companion to a traveling exhibition opening at the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis in February 2017, marking the first time that many of these works, which are housed at the Instituto Cajal in Madrid, have been seen outside of Spain.

Beautiful Brain showcases Cajal’s contributions to neuroscience, explores his artistic roots and achievement, and looks at his work in relation to contemporary neuroscience imaging, appealing to general readers and professionals alike.

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