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The Human Brain

On Friday, Oct. 11, the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at IU Bloomington will recognize its 125th anniversary with a daylong program of major festivities.
About the Brain Sculpture

The department will mark the occasion with the unveiling of a 10,000-lb. limestone sculpture of a human brain at 11:15 a.m., near the entrance to the Psychology Building. At 7 feet high, it will be the largest anatomically accurate brain sculpture in the world, mounted on a limestone and stainless steel base.

Local limestone artist and IU alumna Amy Brier said she was handed the proposal for the sculpture in March. She quickly hired master carver Mike Donham, owner of Accent Limestone and Carving in Spencer, and Brad Powell, of Accent Limestone and Carving, who soon got to work in Donham’s workshop, chiseling and refining the immense sculpture. They worked from a one-foot scale model of a brain.

Brier oversaw the carving, which she calls a “dialogue with the stone.”

“The interesting thing is, we are learning a lot about the brain,” she said.

Donham carves stone for a living, but said he found this project to be a unique challenge. “Anything out of the ordinary, I love.”

A departmental history

Master Carver Mike Donham continues working on the limestone brain sculpture that will become a permanent sculpture outside the Psychology Building.

The department’s distinguished lineage goes back to 1888 when William Lowe Bryan, future president of Indiana University, introduced the “new psychology” to his native state by establishing a psychological laboratory in IU’s Department of Philosophy.

The original IU Psychological Laboratory, as it was known, marked the beginning of what is now the longest continuing psychology program in the country. It also paved the way for an expansive enterprise that now extends beyond a single building to multiple labs and research facilities.

The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences is now a highly collaborative, interdisciplinary enterprise and a leader in state-of-the-art experimentation and theory in the field. With more than 1,500 majors, more than any other department in the College of Arts and Sciences, it includes 64 full-time faculty members and 54 laboratories that study all aspects of the brain-behavior system, including molecular neuroscience, development and cognition, and the social behavior of groups.

Researchers in the department have included such pioneering figures as B.F. Skinner, the founder of modern behaviorism; J.R. Kantor, a prolific psychologist credited with establishing the first naturalistic system of psychology since Aristotle; Esther Thelen, who revolutionized thinking about how babies learn; and William K. Estes, who pioneered the application of mathematics to the study of animal learning and human cognition.

In addition to the brain sculpture dedication,there will also be lectures and symposia on issues facing the scientific community and society at large, such as violence and guns, and will conclude with a reception and a banquet.

Original article by Indiana University Bloomington

More Photos

Photos by Maximillian Tortoriello

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