Visualizing the Scale of the Human Brain

by Visually 2 months ago Filed Under: Design

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The human brain is an incredibly complex organ with seven orders of magnitude of spatial complexity and at least 10 orders of temporal magnitude. These numbers are hard to fathom, so MIT’s EyeWire teamed up with FEI and Visually for an infographic competition to explain the scale of the brain. The competition closed at the end of April and the entries looked amazing! We accepted a whole range of multimedia formats, all judged on the following criteria:

  • Information is represented accurately and communicated clearly. Sources for additional information not in the creative brief should be included according to best practices (use original sources whenever possible).
  • Story/layout is engaging and insightful, helping to pull the viewer through the graphic.
  • The infographic’s design should be attractive and captivating without detracting from the communication of the information. Illustrations, layout, font, and color choices are all important.

The judging panel was comprised of a distinguished group of science supporters across the internet.

Elise Andrew (I F*ing Love Science)
Jen Christiansen (Scientific American)
Christopher Jobson (Colossal)
Derek Muller (Veritasium)
Maria Popova (Brainpickings)
Sebastian Seung (Neuroscientist, EyeWire, MIT)
Logan Smalley (TED-Ed)
Mackenzie Thomas (Google+)
Bradley Voytek (Neuroscientist, UCSD)

The panel deliberated carefully over the course of a week, scoring each entry and arriving at the top three entries:
 

In 3rd Place:

Nicolás Borie Williams worked on a video as his submission. The video has a few small errors that are currently being corrected, but otherwise is a great example of using video to tell a story and explain concepts.

Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

 
 

In 2nd Place:

Pedro Miguel Veloso created incredible illustrations for his submission! He is working on the first draft of a fiction book about conscience and stumbled across the competition as a part of his research. He decided to make an infographic and submit it to help himself understand the scale of the brain. “I have done it not for the art and not for the contest, but for the subject. I discovered that a great way to study something is to make an infographic out of it (at least for me).”

The Scale of The Brain Within The Scale of The Universe
Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

 
 

In 1st Place:

Chris Whittaker and Laura White of Ashfield Healthcare Communications, and Craig Armstrong of CreativeFusion used a metaphor approach that put them in first place. They scaled the human brain all the way up to the scale of the world and described the size the structures of the brain would be at that size. This brings the tiniest brain structures into a scale we can all relate to. This approach combined with a crisp, clean style, does a great job of clearly explaining the scale of the human brain.

Spatial Scales in the Brain
by EyeWire.
Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

 
 

There was also an entry that didn’t make it to the top three, but it was such a cool interactive approach that we had to share it. Anders Bengtson put together a sort of zooming interactive that shows the scale of several of the structures inside the brain.

The Scale of The Brain
by EyeWire.
Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

Congratulations to all winners and participants!