Magazine shares MR image of mother and child

MIT neuroscientist Rebecca Saxe, PhD, shared a memorable image from Smithsonian Magazine on the publication’s website this month: an MRI of a mother and her infant child.

“A single MR image, like this one, takes several minutes to capture,” Saxe wrote. “Moving just a millimeter leaves a blur on the screen. The mother and baby must hold their pose, as if for a daguerreotype.”

As Saxe explained, this image was not made for diagnostic purposes or for any sort of scientific research. It was made for one reason: “because we wanted to see it.”

Saxe went on to describe the various reactions individuals have when they see the image, with the mother kissing the child’s head. Some were reminded of how fragile human beings are, she wrote. Others were in awe of the two brains—one so much smaller, more smooth.

“As for me, I saw a very old image made new,” Saxe wrote. “The Mother and Child is a powerful symbol of love and innocence, beauty and fertility. Although these maternal values, and the women who embody them, may be venerated, they are usually viewed in opposition to other values: inquiry and intellect, progress and power. But I am a neuroscientist, and I worked to create this image; and I am also the mother in it, curled up inside the tube with my infant son.”

Click below to read the full text and a larger view of the MRI: