Ruth, Paz & Henry

ruth paz henry

Ruth -A Traumatic Brain Injury can be the result of a car accident, fall or sporting injury and may cause a range of different symptoms from memory loss to motor dysfunction. My project focuses on the resident immune cells in the brain and how they respond to traumatic brain injury.

Using a microscope that employs different fluorescent coloured lights, I can visualise these immune cells. I can see how these cells change their shape, number and position in response to an injury and to a treatment. This cell population are the most prevalent in the brain with roles that include maintaining the environment, protecting synapses and helping the neurones fire. Because of these numerous and necessary roles, studying their reaction to an injury may prove important and useful target for treatment. Despite having spent three years imaging these cells I still love looking at them down the microscope, as they create such beautiful and complex star-like shapes. In fact, the main cell type in this population is called astroglia, with the ‘astro’ coming from Greek astron, meaning star.

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Paz and Henry -At an early stage of the Art Neuro project we were really excited by the beauty that Ruth found in her traumatic brain injury study. This was captured in the photos and scans of the brain from her research.

The fascinating textures and pastel colours from her scans were so stunning that it was hard to believe that it was a brain. They looked more like a part of the moon or something from another planet.

These visuals were really bought to life after visiting Ruth in the lab and seeing her working in a dark room under the microscope. Enthralling mini galaxies made up of coloured lights dancing down the microscope which such precision and detail. Part of the process involves using coloured light to visualise different types of cells or areas in a section of brain.

Inspired by this use of coloured light, Paz teamed up with Henry to realise the installation. Based on the additive mixing of colours, the piece shows how cells are duplicated in traumatic bran injury as well as how the trauma increases size over the time. On the acrylic sectioned brain, the blue dots represent neurones and red dots represent astrocytes.