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Postcards inspired by NASA and National Park Service feature regions of the brain studied by neuroscience researchers at MIT's McGovern Institute.
Postcards from the brain
“Postcards from the Brain” began as an
illustrative journey, inspired by NASA and the National Park Service, featuring a variety of brain regions studied by McGovern researchers. Our second series of postcards took a molecular approach, focusing instead on individual brain cells called neurons. All graphics were created by NYC artist Joseph Laney. Order and Share
To order your own McGovern brain postcards, contact our colleagues at the
MIT Museum, where proceeds will support current and future exhibitions at the growing museum.
Please share a photo of yourself in your own lab (or natural habitat) with one of our cards on social media. Tell us what you’re studying and don’t forget to tag us @mcgovernmit using the hashtag #McGovernBrains.
Brain Anatomy Postcard Series
The Sylvian fissure is a prominent groove on the right side of the brain that separates the frontal and parietal lobes from the temporal lobe. McGovern researchers are studying a region near the right Sylvian fissure, called the rTPJ, which is involved in thinking about what another person is thinking.
The hippocampus, named after its resemblance to the seahorse, plays an important role in memory. McGovern researchers are studying how changes in the strength of synapses (connections between neurons) in the hippocampus contribute to the formation and retention of memories.
The basal ganglia are a group of deep brain structures best known for their control of movement. McGovern researchers are studying how the connections between the cerebral cortex and a part of the basal ganglia known as the striatum play a role in emotional decision making and motivation.
The arcuate fasciculus is a bundle of axons in the brain that connects Broca’s area, involved in speech production, and Wernicke’s area, involved in understanding language. McGovern researchers have found a correlation between the size of this structure and the risk of dyslexia in children.
Neuron Postcard Series
Signals flow through the nervous system from one neuron to the next across synapses. Synapses are exquisitely organized molecular machines that control the transmission of information. McGovern researchers are studying how disruptions in synapse function can lead to brain disorders like autism.
The axon is the long, thin neural cable that carries electrical impulses called action potentials from the soma to synaptic terminals at downstream neurons. Researchers at the McGovern Institute are developing and using tracers that label axons to reveal the elaborate circuit architecture of the brain.
The soma, or cell body, is the control center of the neuron, where the nucleus is located. It connects the dendrites to the axon, which sends information to other neurons. At the McGovern Institute, neuroscientists are targeting the soma with proteins that can activate single neurons and map connections in the brain.
Long branching neuronal processes called dendrites receive synaptic inputs from thousands of other neurons and carry those signals to the cell body. McGovern neuroscientists have discovered that human dendrites have different electrical properties from those of other species, which may contribute to the enhanced computing power of the human brain.