Earlier this month, President Obama announced his intention to create an ambitious research project, supported by billions of federal dollars, devoted to unlocking the secrets of how the brain works (and how its processes create the thing we call the mind). The insights to be gained from this project are expected to be as revealing as past breakthroughs which united the worlds of art, biology and psychology. “The idea that truth lies beneath the surface derives from Carl von Rokitansky, a gifted pathologist who was dean of the Vienna School of Medicine in the middle of the 19th century.”
What’s the Big Idea?
The study of portraiture has complimented recent neurological research to uncover just how attuned the human brain is to seeing the human face. “Our brain devotes more space to reading the details of faces than to any other object. … Moreover, the sense of stimulation we often experience when we look at a portrait is thought to be due in part to the activity of ‘mirror neurons.’ Signaling by these cells in the motor areas of the brain can make us perceive the actions of others as if they were our own.” By better understanding how our own constitution affects how we interpret the world, we may arrive at a more accurate overall picture.