I’m a little behind on this one, but thought I’d like to mention it anyway. A couple of weeks ago the winners of the Wellcome Image Awards were announced. The prize celebrates images relating to medical science, the domain funded by the Wellcome Trust.
The overall winning image by Robert Lublow at UCL’s Institute of Neurology, is a close-up photograph of the brain of a patient with epilepsy, during an intracranial electrode recording procedure. It’s hard to explain, but there’s something I find very powerful about this image. It looks like a map, the blood vessels like rivers and roads tracing across the surface of the cortex. It’s so bright and colourful, the vibrant red of the blood and the pink of the ‘grey’ matter. I’ve seen so many photos and pictures of brains, and I’ve seen brains up close in dissection classes, but they’ve never looked like this. What makes this photograph different is that it shows the brain alive. There’s blood pumping through it, the tissue is active, this really is a living organ inside someone’s skull. This is a site that I, and most people, aren’t privy to. We see the solid greyness of a preserved brain, and the gradients of an MRI scan, but we don’t actually see the brain, truly as it is, in action. This photo shows us what usually only neurosurgeons would see. And inside there, in all those little intricacies, is the very essence of a person.