How do you track a thought, diagram an emotion, sketch the path of a memory? For as long as humans have tried to understand the mind, we've grappled with such questions. Now in a remarkable new book from Abrams, author Carl Schoonover
showcases our species' tenacious attempts to make images of the brain in order to understand ourselves. The image-rich book, titled Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain From Antiquity to the 21st Century
, shows the beautiful results of that quest.
"Prod the delicate matter in the head in the appropriate manner, and it just might reveal a small but important flash of insight, a clue among countless other clues," Schoonover writes in the preface. "Prod by prod, glimpse by glimpse, we can begin to form theories about brain structure and function; thus, the history of neuroscience is the history of the techniques we employ to delve into the brain." The book ranges from the earliest cell-staining techniques to the high-tech methods that yield today's "brainbows" and intricate maps of neural architecture. Here we present a sampling of our favorite portraits.