Did classic artists paint the brain into their art?

Some scientists seem to think so. Check out this comparison between a sagittal section of a brain and this piece of art:

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Pretty striking similarity isn't there?

Partly as a joke to entertain sceptical colleagues, he and the team went on a brain trawl, and found many other examples. The team is convinced the artists were fascinated by the scientific discoveries being made by anatomists, but their theories had to be concealed in the imagery of their paintings, particularly when their clients were so often senior clergy who might see their scientific interests as blasphemous or even heretical, an offence punishable by death. The study, Brain imaging in the Renaissance, features in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

I'm not sure if I buy their explanation but hey it's pretty cool either way.

-Via Mind Hacks-

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This notion seems to be based partly on the currently popular theory that Renaissance paintings had hidden layers of secret meaning, and partly on the incompatible notion that an artist would put something in just because it looked pretty.

While these might apply to an artist's private doodles, it seems unlikely that they could apply to highly stylised and symbolic devotional art (the meanings are indeed "hidden" to us, but only because we have forgotten the language in which they were expressed!).

By Ian Kemmish (not verified) on 07 Jan 2008 #permalink

"The team is convinced the artists were fascinated by the scientific discoveries being made by anatomists, but their theories had to be concealed in the imagery of their paintings,"

It sounds at least plausible. Even if they didn't know as much about how the brain works as we do, I am sure they must have thought it was real cool!
Dave Briggs :~)

By Dave Briggs (not verified) on 07 Jan 2008 #permalink