A brain on the Sistine chapel?
Dr. Frank Meshberger published an article (reprinted here by Wellcorps, whoever they are) in the Journal of the American Medical Association back in 1990 titled “An Interpretation of Michaelangelo’s Creation of Adam Based on Neuroanatomy.”
“The Creation of Adam fresco shows Adam and God reaching toward one another, arms outstretched, fingers almost touching. One can imagine the spark of life jumping from God to Adam across that synapse between their fingertips. However, Adam is already alive, his eyes are open, and he is completely formed; but it is the intent of the picture that Adam is to ‘receive’ something from God. I believe there is a third ‘main character’ in the fresco that has not previously been recognized.”
Look at the shape of God in his cloud of angels in the Creation of Adam, and compare it to the diagram of a midsagittal section of the brain. Do you see what could be the cerebellum? The pons? The spinal cord? The pituitary gland (the little angel foot sticking out down in front?) The vertebral artery (the green scarf)? What is particularly convincing to me is the shape that God’s left arm takes arcing over the back of one of the angels. It mimics quite well the shape of the cingulate sulcus, and the more shadowy part beneath it (where the angel’s chest is) would be the lateral ventricle.
I don’t know that we could ever be certain that Michelangelo depicted God inside and animating, in a sense, the human mind, but we know that he had the experience that would make such a depiction possible; he dissected numerous cadavers. I would like to think that he created this brain intentionally. It’s a glorious representation—so active, vibrant.