'Braintoons' exhibition is brainchild of Israel's top cartoonists and neuroscientists

“Braintoon" by cartoonist Uri Fink (© Image Uri Fink)July 7, 2013: When people say “It’s not brain science” they mean that something is easy to understand. The corollary — that brain science is too difficult for ordinary people to grasp — presents a challenge to neuroscientists who see educating the public as part of their mission. Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and Parkinson’s are just a few of the areas where brain research impacts public health — and creating awareness is essential to ensuring the population benefits from the latest research.

As part of their public education mandate, Hebrew University brain scientists are looking for ways to create a dialogue between researchers and the non-scientists who can benefit from their research. After an extensive brainstorming process, they decided to collaborate with Israel’s top cartoonists to create an exhibition about the brain.

On display at the newly-gentrified First Station (Jerusalem's old train station compound, which reopened in May), the exhibition features 20 "braintoons" — thematic brain caricatures displayed on huge banners. The exhibition, which opened on June 30, will run until July 18.

To create the exhibition, Prof. Eilon Vaadia, a brain researcher and Director of the Hebrew University’s Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences (ELSC), spoke with the country’s best cartoonists about the multidisciplinary brain research taking place at the University. Vaadia explained how the brain can be examined using innovative research approaches — from the micro level of a single gene to the macro level of behavior and cognition — in an era when supercomputers can simulate its various activities through mathematical and physical models. Established just four years ago, ELSC is a multi-disciplinary environment in which theorists, computer scientists, cognitive psychologists and biologists all work toward the same goals.

Later this week (July 11, at 8 pm), ELSC’s Prof. Idan Segev will join a festive event at the First Station to deliver a lecture (in Hebrew) about the human brain. Segev is a leader of the Israeli team taking part in the Human Brain Project, a flagship research project which the European Union is supporting with over €1 billion.

According to Hebrew University's curator Michal Mor, "Each cartoonist took the lecture he heard about the human brain and translated it into a colorful and unique product. Through lines, color, and touches of exaggeration and humor, the cartoonists sketched their interpretations of the wonders of the brain. The result is a collection of distinct creations, including comic strips and individual caricatures."

Mor curated the exhibition with Nissim “Nusko” Hezkiyahu, one of Israel's most famous cartoonists and director of the Animix Cartoon Festival. Nusko recruited to the cause the country’s best animators and cartoonists, including Michel Kichka, Shlomo Cohen, Uri Fink, Itamar Daube and others. A sample of braintoons from the exhibit can be seen online here.

Source: Media Relations