Comics, Neural Plasticity and the Artistic Temperament: A Reflection by Eugenia G. Amor

Eugenia G. Amor is currently enrolled on her third year of Medicine at the University of Valladolid (Spain). While she has decided to follow a career in sciences, she believes in the importance of the arts and is passionate about incorporating them into medicine. Her comic "Gray Matter" appears in the Fall 2016 Intima.

Eugenia G. Amor is currently enrolled on her third year of Medicine at the University of Valladolid (Spain). While she has decided to follow a career in sciences, she believes in the importance of the arts and is passionate about incorporating them into medicine. Her comic "Gray Matter" appears in the Fall 2016 Intima.

While I started writing this entry, I decided to find inspiration in Santiago Ramon y Cajal. I remember my first approach to this scientific man; it was the day I visited the hospital that has his name in Madrid. When I crossed the hall and turned my head I could read the following inspirational sentence:

“Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculptor of his own brain.”

This quote reminds me of the concept of neural plasticity, which I have explored in my comic, "Gray Matter" published in the Fall 2016 Intima. Neural plasticity is a phenomena leveraged by surgeons and researchers in order to achieve a more extensive resection of gliomas without damaging functional areas of the brain.

Looking over Cajal's work, I have run across one of his books, Advice for a Young Investigator. There, in chapter III, talking about the intellectual qualities a researcher should have, he states:

“The idealism of Don Quixote is combined with the good sense of Sancho in men of genius. The investigator should display some happy combination of these traits: an artistic temperament that impels him to search for and admire the number, beauty, and harmony of things; and (…) a sound critical judgment that is able to reject the rash impulses of daydreams in favor of those thoughts most faithfully embracing objective reality.”

The point that caught my attention was his attention to the importance of the artistic temperament in a researcher. This attribute will allow him, as a Quixote “to see giants where other people see mills"—that means, essentially, to find new and innovative ways and solutions for his investigations and studies.

Among the different editions of Intima Journal is a wide range of artistic temperaments, but I want to focus on "Crisis Averted In Infinite Lives" by Ally Shwed, as she talks about comics, the genre I have chosen to develop my ideas.

Her paper is about art as a therapy: it is used as a form of therapy because of the specific way it stimulates the mind; it triggers dormant thoughts and repressed emotions and allows patients to express thoughts and feelings when verbal expression is not an option (psychiatric disorders cause a dislocation of language). I find it interesting when she says that “the combining of images and text activates still different information processing systems within the brain; consequently, understanding of a thought or message through visual narrative is therefore enhanced. That is why sequential art accomplishes many of the same goals that art therapy strives to achieve.”

It will be really interesting to figure out the reaction of the brain while creating a cartoon. For the moment, let´s remember Shwed´s words: “anyone who has a story to tell can create a comic.”

 


 Eugenia G. Amor is currently enrolled on her third year of Medicine at the University of Valladolid (Spain). While she has decided to follow a career in sciences, she believes in the importance of the arts and is passionate about incorporating them into medicine. Back in 2014, she was involved in the project "Equipo MNCARS" at the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid. You can find out more about her work as an illustrator on her blog, Scientific Tesserae and Mosaics of Knowledge.

 

© 2017 Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine

Source: www.theintima.org