Gray Matters

PSC is collaborating with the Studio for Creative Inquiry, the Carnegie Science Center, and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition on "Gray Matters," an interactive planetarium show that will show how the brain works.

The Studio for Creative Inquiry was established at Carnegie Mellon University to facilitate cooperation between scientists and artists in scientific research and the presentation of the results of scientific research. PSC has provided graphics programming expertise and computational resources to the Studio before on various projects, including the Living Cell planetarium show, a prior planetarium show, and sculpture design.

"Gray Matters" will provide its audience with images of how the human brain functions at both anatomical and neuronal levels. The audience will travel along the optic nerve into the visual cortex to demonstrate how the brain processes sensory input. These images will be generated from models of portions of the central nervous system created at PSC.

During part of the show each audience member will get to control the action of one of the neurons in the simulation. The audience will have to learn how to work together to process neural activity in parallel just like the brain does. In a sense, the audience will briefly become a brain.

The planetarium show will be shown first at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh and will then travel around the United States. A condensed version will also be shown at Expo 2000 in Hannover, Germany.