Me, Myself and MRI

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Medical science has advanced rapidly over the past few hundred years and with it our view of ourselves has changed. Leonardo Da Vinci made accurate drawings of the exterior of the human body - the Vitruvian Man. In the 16th Century autopsies were public entertainment, allowing many people to see inside the body for the first time. We can now see inside the body using an MRI Scanner and with MEG see neurons firing as we are thinking!

Task: Discuss what physical characteristics can tell us. Whether someone's athletic; what their ethnic background is etc?


At the same time there has been a sea change in the way people represent themselves. Portraiture used to be restricted to the rich and famous. Only they could afford painted pictures that portrayed them the way they wanted to be seen. Objects in the scene, the clothes they wore and pose they held could all influence the viewers' interpretation (see session on Portraiture). Today 'the camera never lies' and we can take instant portraits using a camera phone. Celebrities are caught by the paparazzi in situations and settings that aren't of their choosing. Within minutes these can be on websites all over the world.

Task: Think about the different ways we can show people who we are:
  • Posing in photographs
  • Hair and make-up
  • Accessories - jewellery, watches etc.
  • Facebook profile
  • Clothes we wear
  • Music we listen to
  • Newspaper we read
  • Art or posters we have up in our rooms
Next section: Personality