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CMUThink: Visualizing the Brain: Home

Research highlights, resources, and further reading for CMUThink Philadelphia: Visualizing the Brain on October 10, 2016 with Dr. Michael Tarr and Dr. Greg Dunn on neuroscience and art. Guide by Ana Van Gulick, Ph.D.


Further Reading

A First Big Step Toward Mapping the Human Brain

Article in Wired By Katie Palmer on initiatives to map brain function, cell types, and genetics. 

Wired neurons


Updated Brain Map Identifies Nearly 100 New Regions

Article in the New York Times by Carl Zimmer on a publication in Nature in July 2016, remapping the brain based on data from the Human Connectome Project and nearly doubling the number of regions mapped. See the article write-up in Nature here
Image: Glasser & Van Essen, 2016

How does the brain perceive art?

Article in Wired, by Jonah Lehrer



Light the Brain: Karl Deisseroth and the optogenetics breakthrough

Article in The New Yorker By John Colapinto on the influence of optogenetics on neuroscience.

New Yorker

News @ CMU

CMU Psychology Turns 100! 


Read the story and find out how they celebrated with an alumni conference. 

BrainHub hosts first Neurons to Neighborhoods


On September 30, BrainHub, CMU's interdisciplinary Brain Science initiative, hosted the first Neurons to Neighborhoods event on early childhood development. The event brought together researchers, policy makers, educators, parents and community members to discuss how to better support early childhood development. 

Marlene Behrmann Elected To National Academy of Sciences


In April 2016, Marleen Behrmann, the George A. and Helen Dunham Cowan Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). She is the first female scientist from CMU to be elected to the NAS. 

Read more

The Science of Why Drivers Slow Down for Tunnels


Interview with CMU psychology faculty member Roberta Klatzky about that all too familiar Pittsburgh phenomenon. 

Read the story on The Incline here

Lab Spotlight

Studying Neural Plasticity in the Barth Lab 

Dr. Alison Barth and her lab are focused on understanding how experience assembles and alters the properties of neural circuits in the cerebral cortex, in both normal and disease states. Check out their latest publications and research findings on their website.



Read more about this amazing piece on Greg Dunn's website and on the Franklin Institute's page here

Find limited edition prints and see more of Dr. Greg Dunn's work here 

Movement and Sensation

Research @ CMU

Sharing brain imaging data - the CMU-60

Dr. Tim Verstynen and his Coax Lab members have put together an openly available dataset that is helping others study white matter tracts in the brain. The CMU-60 template is an averaged map of reconstructed fiber orientations from a 257-direction diffusion spectrum imaging (DSI) sequence from 60 neurologically healthy volunteers. These data sets are free to use for research and education purposes. 


Dr. Versystnen also co-authored a book about Zombie neuroscience.

Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?: A Neuroscientific View of the Zombie Brain (Amazon) (@CMU Library)

Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep

Dr. Tim Verstynen and Dr. Michael Tarr were both featured in the new documentary film Fastball about the connections between perception and motor coordination in baseball. 

Fastball (Film website

Directed by Jonathan Hock, featuring Kevin Costner narrating, Derek Jeter, and Denard Span, this film explores the split second timing of baseball.  


Understanding the Network Underlying Face Perception using diffusion MRI  - Read the study in PLOS One, an Open Access Journal

Image: PLOS One, Pyles 2013

Dr. John Pyles, research scientist at CMU, together with faculty members Dr. Tim Verstynen, Dr. Michael Tarr and Dr. Walt Schneider at Pitt, are studying the network of brain regions that underlie our ability to to perceive and recognize faces using MRI sequences that map the white matter connectivity in the brain between functional regions. 

Their work was published in PLOS ONE, a popular Open Access journal, meaning that the work is freely available to the public and does not require a costly journal subscription. Publishing in Open Access journals is an important part of the Open Science movement. 

Read the work here


The Allen Institute for Brain Science Atlas of the Human Brain

The highest resolution atlas of the human brain to date! 

Explore at


Related Books

Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing 

By Margaret Livingstone

@CMU Library


This groundbreaking study by Harvard neurobiologist Margaret Livingstone explores the inner workings of vision, demonstrating that how we see art depends ultimately on the cells in our eyes and our brains. In Vision and Art, Livingstone explains how great painters fool the brain: why Mona Lisa's smile seems so mysterious, Monet's Poppy Field appears to sway in the breeze, Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie blinks like the lights of Times Square, and Warhol's Electric Chair pulses with current. Drawing on history and her own cutting- edge discoveries, Livingstone offers intriguing insights, from explanations of common optical illusions, to speculations on the correlation of learning disabilities with artistic skill. By skillfully bridging the space between science and art, Vision and Art will both arm artists and designers with new techniques that they can use in their own craft and thrill any reader with an interest in the biology of human vision.

Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st-Century

By Carl Schoonover

@CMU Library

Follows the history of our exploration of the brain through images, from medieval sketches and 19th-century drawings by the founder of modern neuroscience to images produced using state-of-the-art techniques, allowing us to see the fantastic networks in the brain as never before. These black-and-white and vibrantly colored images, many resembling abstract art, are employed daily by scientists around the world, but most have never before been seen by the general public. Each chapter addresses a different set of techniques for studying the brain as revealed through the images, and each is introduced by a leading scientist in that field of study. Author Carl Schoonover's captions provide detailed explanations of each image as well as the major insights gained by scientists over the course of the past 20 years. Accessible to a wide audience, this book reveals the elegant methods applied to study the mind, giving readers a peek at its innermost workings, helping us to understand them, and offering clues about what may lie ahead.



Where in the brain? is a web tool that indexes neuroscience findings, topics, and coordinates in th brain. 

Enter a topic or key word (e.g. language, pain, faces) and it will  search the literature of findings and show you a visual map of where in the brain effects have been found for this topic. 

Try it out! 

Optical Illusions

Learn about the visual system and the brain by interacting with these great demonstrations of optical illusions and visual phenomenon. 



Liaison to Psychology

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Emily Bongiovanni