Robert Ludlow, UCL Institute of Neurology, London
This photograph shows the surface (cortex) of a human brain belonging to an epileptic patient, displaying the arteries and veins that supply its nutrients and oxygen. This photograph was taken before an intracranial electrode recording procedure, in which a flexible electrode grid is attached to the surface of the brain. The patient is then taken to the telemetry ward, where they are observed and recorded for a period of up to two weeks. Post-observation, the surgeon reviews the recordings and evaluates the data using the unique numbers on the grid implant to identify the specific areas of the brain that need to be removed during the next operation. This patient made a full recovery and no longer suffers from epileptic fits.
What was involved in this surgical procedure?
This photograph was an integral part of the operative process. First, this initial image was taken of the brain in its natural state. The surgeon then attached a flexible electrode grid, with a unique series of numbers at regular intervals along it, to the surface of the brain. Once the grid was applied, a second photograph was taken to record its position. The patient then underwent a CT scan to confirm the correct location of the grid implant on the brain and was taken to the telemetry ward, where they were observed and the electrical activity of their brain was recorded for up to two weeks. Post-observation, the surgeon reviewed the recordings and evaluated the data using the unique numbers on the grid implant, which was then used to identify the specific areas of the brain to be removed during the next operation. This patient made a full recovery and no longer suffers from epileptic fits.
Why was this chosen as the overall winner?
Alice Roberts (anatomist, author and TV presenter) explains: “This is a stunning image. Taken during an operation, which allows surgeons access to inside the skull, for recording electrical impulses, we are looking at the surface of a living brain. It’s just extraordinary: the ‘grey’ matter (which is grey in death) is blushing pink. Small arteries are glowing with the scarlet blood pulsing through them, while purple veins lie thickly in the sulci, the crevices of the brain. And underneath that is somebody’s mind. For me, the context, the composition and the clarity of this image made it a winner.”
The 12th Wellcome Image Awards were announced on 20 June 2012, recognising the creators of the most informative, striking and technically excellent images among recent acquisitions to Wellcome Images, as chosen by a panel of judges.