The Neuroanatomy Lesson


Client: Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, McGovern Institute, MIT


Late in 2014, we were approached by Nancy Kanwisher of MIT's McGovern Institute for Brain Research.  She had an idea for a new way to demonstrate her particular field of research: how regions of the brain play specialized roles in the perception of the world.  From her experience teaching and doing lectures, Nancy had found interesting ways of describing and modeling these parts of the brain, but she had never been able to show where they are on a person’s head.  Her new idea?  She’ll just shave off all of her hair and draw the regions on!

Nancy was already creating videos from her class demonstrations, so to play up the shock and reality of what she had in mind to do, we decided to imitate the look of these lectures in front of an audience.  Getting a scalp clean enough to draw on requires several steps of shaving, so Nancy asked her Graduate student assistant, Rosa Lafer-Sousa, to help out with the process on camera.  Rosa happily stepped in with a razor to do the final clean-up and then become the master brain artist on Nancy’s scalp.

The Neuroanatomy Lesson - The Director's Cut

The Neuroanatomy Lesson went viral in mid-April 2015 and was featured on BuzzfeedNew York MagazineGizmodoBetterWorld,  and many other sites around the world.  Below is a longer, "director's cut" version of the video which goes into more detail about the regions of the brain.