The art of neurology

Local doctor blends right and left brain to create neuro-themed artwork

What happens when art and science combine? A gallery of beautiful work, such as the paintings and drawings that adorn the walls of at Norton Neuroscience Institute – Brownsboro.

Some of this art was created by Hilary Highfield, M.D., Ph.D. She started as a fine arts major at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, changed her major to chemistry, and followed the medical and doctorate track at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, to the field of neuropathology. Dr. Highfield serves as a neuropathologist at Norton Neuroscience Institute, but she still combines her love of painting with her expertise on the human brain through vivid depictions of the brain itself.

Images of neurons, the elegant lines of the gray matter itself and the patterns found in brain waves are all rich with inspiration — literally and figuratively. The brain has an amazing flexibility and responds to making or interacting with art, so it stands to reason it should be the subject of the art.

“Neuropathology is a great combination of visual skills and medicine,” said Dr. Highfield. “I really appreciate the support that Norton Neuroscience Institute and [David A. Sun, M.D., Ph.D., neurosurgeon and executive medical director, Norton Neuroscience Institute] have provided for my artistic efforts and of the other artists.”

Dr. Highfield perhaps is following in the footsteps (paint strokes?) of another famous neurologist/artist. The father of modern neurology, Santiago Ramón y Cajal’s drawings of the nervous system and its cells have been featured in medical textbooks and art museums around the world.

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