Mind as matter: the brain on display

Friday, April 13, 2012 - 17:00 in Psychology & Sociology

A new exhibition shows that there is nothing grey about the 1.3kg of inscrutable cells that fill the human headIn the quest for its secrets, the brain has been bored into, dissected, chemically modified, shocked and, in recent years, imaged using increasingly sophisticated technology. The Wellcome Collection's new exhibition "asks not what brains do for us, but what we have done to brains". All kinds of uses and abuses of the brain are featured: from the pioneers of brain surgery and neurology, the quacks of phrenology and the attempts to justify racism and sexism in terms of brain size, through to contemporary artistic responses to this maddeningly inscrutable 1.3kg lump of matter.Inevitably, this history of our explorations beneath the skull has a gruesome side. There are videos of electroconvulsive therapy in which the patient jerks horribly and is gagged to stop him swallowing his tongue. In contrast, a video of...

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