Dr. Peter Snyder is a Professor of Neurology at Brown University. His presentation Woodturning My Way through Brain Research presented by Brown’s Creative Medicine Lecture Series, was about the intersection of biomedical research and his visual art, woodturning. This was an unusual talk from the vantage point of one who is both a scientist as well as an artist. Rarely is the topic of the junction of art and science discussed much less from the viewpoint of an individual who straddles both realms. It began by setting the stage with a short history of visual art in neuroscience. He then went on to present some examples of how it applies to daily life, such as watching TV and completing arithmetic problems and how they activate similar regions of the brain. Finally he showed how neuronal images and his research into early retinal identification of Altzheimer’s are illustrated in his beautifully turned woodworks.
One of the valuable takeaways was his breakout of artistic approaches for conveying complex scientific information. He outlined them as: realistic depictions, faithful to original source data and artistic representations to create useful heuristics or to simplify a message. This is one very useful breakdown that asses how scientific information and art creation intersect.
Dr. Snyder is excited by the constant unfolding of new ideas in his research and new approaches to his artistic creation. Yet, he is also challenged by the balance of working as a Professor and Research Officer in neurology and as a woodturner. But that does not seem to stop him from pursuing these multiple engagements and surprisingly suggests that it might stimulate them.
Dr. Peter Snyder is the Chief Research Officer of the Lifespan Health System and Professor of Neurology at the Alpert Medical School at Brown University.
Brown’s Creative Medicine Lecture Series is presented by the Department of Emergency Medicine the Creative Arts Council and the Cogut Center for the Humanities at Brown University.