Contents of the Map

The map contains 28 references to important figures, discoveries or moments in the history of neuroscience and neuropsychology. These are outlined below.

The Legend:

The map legend features two key figures from the history of neuroscience, Santiago Ramon y Cajal [1] on the left (with his microscope [2] on the mantelpiece), and Phineas Gage [3] on the right, complete with the tamping iron which was accidentally blasted through his head.

The mantelpiece also features a clock [4] with only one side bearing numerals, in reference to the disorder of left unilateral spatial neglect which occurs on occasion following parietal lobe damage due to stroke. There is also a model aeroplane [5], which refers to the only childhood memory which was accessible to the famous amnesic patient H.M. following his bilateral hippocampal removal in 1953. The initials H and M are incorporated into the struts supporting the wing of the aeroplane.

At the foot of the legend’s mantelpiece are the hieroglyphics [6] which constitute the first written reference to brain injury in the human record, taken from the Edwin Smith surgical papyrus.


The Border:

The map’s border is composed of 108 neurons [7], joined together by dendritic-axonal connections. The two top corners feature trepanned skulls [8], historical references to the ancient practice of trepanning in which crude holes were drilled into the skull to release evil spirits or cure maladies. The lower two corners contain brains [9].


The Brainstem:

The island representing the brainstem is host to tornadoes [10], suggesting the role of this structure in regulating breathing and respiration.


The Cerebellum:

To represent the role of the cerebellum in movement and stored motor behaviours, the coastline of the cerebellar island is battered by turbulent waves [11].


The Temporal Lobe:

Two rivers [12, 13] running in parallel represent the two major temporal sulci, while a small wood is located at  Wernicke’s Area [14]. A rock formation [15] similar to the Face on Mars represents the Fusiform Face Area (FFA), while a warehouse [16] represents the role of the temporal cortex in long-term memory storage.


The Occipital Lobe:

The lighthouse [17] at the occipital pole represents the role of area V1/Primary Visual Cortex in processing all aspects of the visual scene. The viaduct [18] in the region of visual colour area V4 represents the way in which sense modalities can display unusual connectivity in conditions such as synaesthesia. A water mill [19] on a flowing river is shown in the region of area V5 representing visual motion processing in this region.


The Parietal Lobe:

The busy shipping port ‘Port Rietal’ [20] represents the way in which this lobe’s areas 5 and 7 receive dense convergent inputs from multiple sense modalities and contribute to our sense of location in space. The human-shaped lake [21] ‘Lough Homuncu’ hints at the role of this region in representing the body and space around it. The tower [22] is a cortical column, and has 6 layers.


The Frontal Lobe:

A city [23] representing civilisation and society is located in the prefrontal region, and is named ‘Korbinian’ after Korbinian Brodmann who produced the map of cortical regions based on cytoarchitecture which is still used today. One of the rail lines from Korbinian terminates at ‘Gage Rock’ [24], a reference to the accident blasting rocks from the path of the rail line in Vermont which resulted in Gage’s accident and loss of brain tissue.  The other line connects Korbinian to the town of ‘Leborgne’ [25], named after Pierre-Paul Broca’s famous patient “Tan” (whose real surname was Leborgne) and located in the region of Broca’s Area.


The Sea Monster:

The sea monster bears the head of a seahorse [26] in reference to the hippocampus.


The Ships:

Two tall ships represent the influence of Charles Darwin’s voyage on the HMS Beagle [27] and the influence it had on the psychology, biology and science in general.


The Compass:

The compass is composed of an astrocyte [28].