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Beyond the Brain

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Mind Over Gray Matter
Photograph by Cary Wolinsky

Jacopo Annese, a neuroscientist in the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at the University of California, Los Angeles, uses a delicate brush to handle slices cut from a frozen human brain. "Recently," he says, "it has become possible to combine the microscopic study of organic tissue with state-of-the-art, computer-assisted image analysis and reconstruction." He is probing a fundamental question: How does the mind relate to the underlying structures of the brain? Searching for answers, he slices brains acquired at autopsy into as many as 2,500 sections just a few thousandths of an inch thick and stains them with dyes in order to reveal cells and other tissue elements. He then scans them into a digital database to create a detailed 3-dimensional cerebral map that may help understand diseases such as Alzheimer's—and point the way to a deeper insight of the mind. 
(Since this photograph was taken, Annese has become the director of the Brain Observatory at the University of California, San Diego.)

Photo Fast Facts

Camera: Nikon F100
Film Type: Fujichrome Provia 100
Lens: 17-35mm
Speed and F-Stop: Slow shutter with fill flash
Weather Conditions: Indoors
Time of Day: Unrecorded
Lighting Techniques: The cutting machine has a very strong, directional light that was focused on the brain. There was not enough light reflected onto Dr. Annese's face for the film to record it. By adding a small flash focused just on Dr. Annese's face, I was able to photograph the brain and Dr. Annese.

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