Social Isolation Conveyed While Illustrating Dorsal Raphe Dopamine Neurons

Silver linings, MIT article on social isolation


Adobe Illustrator

Scientific Researchers

Print and online

Dr. Kay Tye
MIT Brain and Cognitive Sciences

This purpose of this illustration was to get a coveted spot on the cover of MIT’s Cell journal. The author wanted to generate interest in a research article on social isolation which was being submitted for publication. I elected to include it in this portfolio with the actual Cell cover layout markup so it could be viewed as it was intended.

This project was a challenge on so many levels. Firstly, illustrating interconnected “social neurons” that looked like pyramidal neurons without getting too technical was interesting. Secondly, camouflaging a human figure within one of the neurons and having it be clearly visible yet still hidden was a real challenge. Lastly, trying to convey an emotional concept of social isolation and loneliness visually with biological components was something I had never attempted before.

Ultimately, this illustration was not chosen for the cover, but it did teach me a lot. I did enjoy the challenge and I hope I get to try my hand at another one of these projects. The outside-the-box challenges are pretty exciting. It is not very often that a medical illustrator is invited to simply have fun with a subject and let their creativity really shine.