Archive for the ‘michelle hunter’ Category

NEW #Painting : The #Brain and Recoil Sounds

September 17, 2014 Leave a comment

Hey you!

How do you react when you hear an unpleasant sound? For example:

  • Nails on a chalkboard
  • Child crying at a high pitch
  • Metal against glass
  • Brakes screeching

We usually recoil, maybe even cover our ears. The sounds are so sensitive to us that we physically try to protect ourselves. Well, allow me to introduce my latest brain painting “Cacophony. ” The word cacophony means “a harsh, discordant mixture of sounds.” Thanks to a good friend for the name suggestion!

The new painting has also been featured on the Scientific American blog!!

20″ x 24″

Acrylic on Canvas 
2014 ©Michelle Hunter

** NOTE: No chalk was used in the making of this painting. It’s all acrylic paint. Cool huh 🙂

There was an interesting study published in the Journal of Neuroscience conducted by Newcastle University scientists with funding from the Wellcome Trust. The study, “Features versus Feelings: Dissociable Representations of the Acoustic Features and Valence of Aversive Sounds,” looked at the interaction between our amygdala (our emotion area of our brains) and our auditory cortex.

I came across this and other articles that referenced this study on recoil sounds published in The Journal of Neuroscience ( It inspired the painting.

Pink is the amygdala and it plays a large part in our processing of emotions
Blue is the auditory cortex
Yellow is the area of the auditory cortex that handles gauging frequencies. Apparently, sound vibrations of 2,000 to 5,000 Hz are considered to be unpleasant

The article came up with a top 10 list of unpleasant sounds from their research. I included a few of them in the painting, like:
1. Knife on a bottle
2. Chalk on a blackboard
3. Nails on a blackboard
4. Female scream
5. Brakes on a cycle squealing
6. Baby crying

Are there other sounds (PG) that make you cringe?

As always feedback is welcome!! I would love to know your thoughts and recommendations on other brain topics of interest!


2014 ©Michelle Hunter

2014 ©Michelle Hunter

2014 ©Michelle Hunter
2014 ©Michelle Hunter
2014 ©Michelle Hunter

2014 ©Michelle Hunter
2014 ©Michelle Hunter
2014 ©Michelle Hunter

2014 ©Michelle Hunter

In the below photo, I took a picture of myself holding a pen (because I didn’t have chalk) so I can use the photo as reference for painting my hand as you see it in the final painting.

2014 ©Michelle Hunter
2014 ©Michelle Hunter
Michelle Hunter 
Exploring Neuroscience Through Art
 Instagram []

 LinkedIn []

via Blogger


Wonderful time at the #Neuromarketing World Forum in New York! #sciart

April 30, 2014 Leave a comment


Michelle Hunter by her work
“The Brain and Smoking – Part 1”
at the Neuromarketing World Forum
Conference in New York City

A couple of months ago I was contacted by the lovely Carla Nagel who is the Executive Director or the Neuromarketing Science & Business Association (NMSBA). They were having a conference in New York and she came across my work online as asked if I would be interested in attending and showing my work. Of course I said Yes!

Below are some images from the conference which took place in March. A couple of works of mine from the Brain Series were included on stage with the presenters and other paintings and prints were laid out in the sponsor area.

It was so cool to talk brains with neuroscientists and marketers interest in the brain! Thank you Carla for the opportunity, Elyte for helping me get set up and the rest of the NMSBA staff in attendance. It was a great experience!

Location: Hudson Theater on W 44th street A New York City Landmark

Artwork has been set up on stage
Carl Marci, Chief Science Officer, Innerscope Research introducing the opening panel

Ale Smidts Professor of Marketing Research, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University talking about “How well do neural focus groups predict choice?”

Michelle Hunter’s brain art table at the Neuromarketing World Forum Conference in New York

Caroline Winnett, BrandNeuro during her presentation on “The Future of Neuro”

Antonio Damasio Professor of Neuroscience, University of Southern California delivering the keynote address on “Emotions, Feelings and Decisions”

Antonio Damasio Professor of Neuroscience, University of Southern California during his presentation

Antonio Damasio Professor of Neuroscience, University of Southern California during his presentation

Michelle Hunter with Antonio Damasio Professor of Neuroscience, University of Southern California in front of Michelle’s painting “Caffeine Headache”

I welcome opportunities so share the Brain Series with an audience. Know of any opportunities I should consider? Shoot me a note via any of the methods below!

Michelle Hunter 
Exploring Neuroscience Through Art
 Instagram []

via Blogger

New #Painting! The #brain and negative vs positive thoughts #sciart

March 10, 2014 Leave a comment
When someone says to you “Don’t look over there.” What’s the first thing you do? You look over there (or at least have a strong desire to)! Of course, because for our minds, it’s easier to process something positive rather than negative.

Let’s test this…You do NOT want to read the rest of this post….

There are several interesting things that happen to the brain when we’re faced or are thinking about negative versus positive thoughts. We’ll get to that in a bit within this post and you are welcome to add your thoughts to the comments section.

Cognitive Dissonance
20″ x 20″
Acrylic on Canvas
2013 ©Michelle Hunter

About the Painting
There are a few things happening within this painting.
The brain is divided into two lengthwise. On the right side of the brain are words we can associate as positive like “Can,” “Yes,” “Welcome” and “Good” (these words could just have easily been on the left side also). As these words approach the brain, they are being absorbed. That can be seen around the words “Can” and “Welcome.”
On the other side of the brain we have negative words like “Can’t,” Shouldn’t” and “Bad.” Those words are crashing into a brick wall as the brain does not want to accept these terms.

When I first started the painting, I just intended to have the letters work into each other, like “Good” is connected to the word “Should” through the common letter “o.” Then I started thinking about that a little more. Usually when we’re children, it seems like we’re always told not to do something. While that was probably in our own best interest so we don’t break something or don’t get hurt, there is probably a more constructive way to get the message across. As noted at the beginning of the post, what are you most likely to do when you are told not to do something – you want to do it! Why is that you shouldn’t? With that in mind, I formed the letters as building blocks that children usually play with. Perhaps instead of saying “Don’t do ____[Fill in the blank]_____]” a request can be framed as “How about you do this instead, and this is why.…” or “This is really dangerous because….”

About the Brain and Negative/Positive Thoughts
There are several interesting things that happen to the brain when we’re faced or are thinking about negative versus positive thoughts. We’ll get to that in a bit within this post and you are welcome to add your thoughts to the comments section.
One aspect of negative thoughts is how they limit you. Not just in thinking “I can’t do __[fill in the blank]____” but also with we feel that we have to make an impulse decision based on fear. Imagine you are faced with something scary, like we are witnessing an incident happening or feel like an incident is about to happen. What do you do in that moment?
Such a setting can trigger our flight or fight response. Forget all the possibilities of getting out of the situation if we were in a clear mindset, we just want to get the hell away. Our options, as a result, become limited; any other options for escaping a situation don’t matter. That’s one of the reasons a brick wall is running along the side of the brain being hit with negative words. We’re in a fight to protect ourselves so nothing from the outside (no other opinions or considerations) is going to make it into my thoughts.
DETAIL – Cognitive Dissonance
20″ x 20″
Acrylic on Canvas
2013 ©Michelle Hunter

Another aspect is that it’s easier for the brain to process positive thoughts versus negative. For some people, their minds actually ignore the negative leaving them with just positive or neutral thoughts. 

The information we are exposed to goes through a process involving our frontal lobe in a effort to decide if this information will influence a decision we have to make. Information that in line with how a person already feels could be weighted more than information that is contradictory. Our brain can certainly be bias whether we are aware of that or not. Think about it…..

Now I’m sure you don’t want to share this post with one other person right?

Happy thinking!

Michelle Hunter 
Exploring Neuroscience Through Art
 Instagram []

via Blogger

100 yrs of smoking studies @PopSci | #Brain & #Smoking paintings | @JAMA_current

January 15, 2014 Leave a comment
The Brain and Smoking: Part 1 – 
It Begins: The Brain and Secondhand Smoke – 

There was an article published recently on the Popular Science blog marking 100 years of studies done/reported on regarding the health implications of smoking.[1]

While it has been proven that smoking can be a cause of lung cancer, what is it that makes it hard to quit and how does smoking impact those around you, neurologically?

Well those are the questions that prompted two paintings in my ongoing Brain Series, an image which is included at the beginning of this blog post. Check out the links to those respective blog posts to see how smoking impacts the brain of the first and secondhand smoker.


Michelle Hunter 
Exploring Neuroscience Through Art

[1] “100 Years of Smoking in Popular Sciance” Diep, Francis,, January 10, 2014

via Blogger

World #Stroke Day! You and your #brain

October 29, 2013 Leave a comment

While the next painting in my brain series will be on the brain and stroke, I wanted to use this post to help bring awareness to the topic.

Do you know what a stroke (aka “Brain attack”) is?

It’s when blood flow is cut off to any portion of the brain. The brain is a marvelous organ that can suffer great harm if it’s not properly taken cared of. So…

How can one prevent a stroke?

Majority of strokes can be prevented! Consult your healthcare professional to determine what your risk factors may be. In addition, consider:

  • Do you monitor your diet? Are you aware of how many fatty foods you may be consuming?
  • Do you stay active? Exercise regularly to help keep the blood flowing?
  • Are you a smoker? It can DOUBLE your risk of a stroke.
  • Do you consume more than 2 alcoholic drinks a day? Strokes have been tied to alcohol consumption.
  • When was the last time your blood pressure was measured? High blood pressure is a strong risk factor and should be regularly monitored.
  • Do you know whether your heartbeat is normal or now? Work with your doctor if you have an irregular heartbeat.
  • What’s your cholesterol level? It should be checked by your doctor also. What is cholesterol? When checking your blood, it’s a fatty substance that is not only made by the body but can also come in food. Clogged arteries can a side effect of high cholesterol.

Experiencing a stroke can have devastating results from being in a vegetative state or loosing mobility or the ability to speak.

I look forward to exploring more on this with you. In the meantime, here are a couple of links to help you learn more:

“Stroke Prevention”
“Anatomy of the brain”
“Effects of a Stroke”

Here’s to YOUR brain health!

via Blogger

World Suicide Prevention Day – The #Brain and Serotonin #sciart

September 10, 2013 Leave a comment
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.
[The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) – a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.]
Whenever we hear of someone that took their life, we ask ourselves, what could make them do that? We try to understand what was going on in the victims heads from the context of our own, which is impossible. Our minds are unique and as such, the way people behave and how we engage with people should be treated as sensitive experiences.
Through advances in neuroscience, scientists are learning more about the brain of ones that take their lives. Below is a resulting drawings stemming from what I read.
In a transcript I read, in New York, many suicides are done by either hanging or jumping from heights. For the drawing, I chose to depict the act through hanging.[2]
In the brains of those studies, the chemical Serotonin draws the most attention. Serotonin is understood to regulate our moods, sleep, behavior and sexual desire.[1] Of brains studied, serotonin levels were off (suicide victims had 30% more) compared to the brains of those that died suddenly from either accidents or natural causes. There’s more serotonin than there should be, they are also smaller and don’t work right. In the drawing above, you notice that the letters spelling out serotonin go around the rope that’s forming the noose.
Another key factor for suicidal brains is the workings of the Prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is shaded in the above drawing. This is where our decisions are processed. If this area is damaged or malfunctioning, rash decisions and impulses aren’t reasoned out which could lead to someone going through with taking their life.
If you or someone you know are showing signs of distress, please get help:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) – a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Michelle Hunter
Contemporary Artist
Tel: (646) 504-5034

Get a FREE handwritten postcard from me! Join my mailing list here: 
Contact me to commission a painting or drawing ( / 646-504-5034) 
The Brain Series of Paintings, so far:
Purchase prints to fit your space here: 
Like on Facebook: 
Follow on Twitter: 

1: “What is Serotonin?” January 5, 2012
2: “NPR The End of Life: Biology of Suicide” April 29, 1998

via Blogger

New Painting on the Brain and the Visual Cortex

April 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Brace yourselves for some eye catching work 🙂

Focusing on our brain and the visual cortex, I introduce you to:

Yet to be Seen
20″ x 24″
Acrylic on Stretched Canvas

Got dots?

Our visual cortex is located at the back of our brains and covers both left and right hemispheres. By knowing just that bit of information, I wanted the the angle of the head to be 3/4 profile from the back. I felt that if it was a full view from the back, it may be hard to know how much area the visual cortex covers. In this detail below, you’ll see that the visual cortex area of the brain is highlighted with this dense area of reddish dots.

The idea for how to paint this work seemed pretty straight forward…as a color blind test! I couldn’t think of a vision painting without connecting it to a vision test of all things. As you can imagine, the painting became a bit hard at times to look at while creating it. You can view some in progress pics and video below.

While there are different types of color blindness and different types of tests for it, I chose to do the painting in the style of the Ishihara Color Vision Charts common for red-green color blindness. Not only are these tests useful, I personally find them fun to do; it’s like exercise for our eyes (or at least how I thought of it).

(c) Michelle Hunter
(c) Michelle Hunter
(c) Michelle Hunter

(c) Michelle Hunter

(c) Michelle Hunter

Want to learn more about how our visual cortex works? Visit the Wikipedia on the topic here:

How about the Ishihara Color Vision Charts? Read more about them here:



SEE the whole Brain Series so far!!! Check out this particular blog post that will be updated with each completed brain painting!

‘Til next time!


Michelle Hunter 
Contemporary Artist
Tel: (646) 504-5034
 Twitter [@artcoholic]