Inspired by Chronic Illness, She Made Award-Winning Art about the Brain

Maddie Bender in Scientific American:

When Yas Crawford started feeling the effects of her chronic illness, she says she felt as if her body and mind were at war. “When you’re ill for a long time, your body takes over,” she says. “Your brain wants to do one thing, and your body does something else.”

Crawford has myalgic encephalomyelitis, also called chronic fatigue syndrome. She says her illness made her ruminate on interoception, the perception of the body’s internal state. People with this condition, particularly those who are afflicted for a long time, report heightened awareness of their body’s inner workings—such as their heartbeat and temperature.

We commonly think of five senses—sight, sound, smell, touch and taste—and we have the senses of balance and body position as well. But interoception could be called an “eighth sense,” argues Crawford, who has a background in geology and microbiology and a master’s degree in photography. That title inspired her to make an eponymous collection of artwork. Cognition IX, an image from that collection, recently won the 2021 Art of Neuroscience competition held by the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience.

More here.