Today’s Doodle, illustrated by Moscow-born guest artist Victoria Semykina, celebrates the 96th birthday of prolific Russian neuroscientist Dr. Natalia Bekhtereva, who committed her life to the mission of demystifying the workings of the human brain. Her pioneering research led to crucial breakthroughs in the understanding of human cognition, and she improved many lives by laying the foundation for new treatments of nervous system diseases.
Dr. Natalia Petrovna Bekhtereva was born on this day in 1924 in Leningrad, Russia. As a child, she was determined to succeed and willed herself to the head of her class. Dr. Bekhtereva graduated from medical school in 1947 and then turned her focus to neurophysiology, following in the footsteps of her grandfather Vladimir Bekhterev, a legendary scientist in that field. In 1950, Bekhtereva began as a junior researcher with the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR, where she spent decades and eventually became the director of the Institute of Experimental Medicine.
Through her research, Dr. Bekhtereva made huge strides in the scientific understanding of how the brain works, including how different neurological structures and processes are linked together. She also contributed to breakthroughs in the study of chronic nervous system disorders and pioneered less invasive surgical methods to diagnose and treat them. In 1990, Dr. Bekhtereva founded the Institute of the Human Brain of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which today bears her name and continues to push forward her life’s mission.
Dr. Bekhtereva received numerous international awards for her work and authored over 360 scientific papers throughout her storied career.
С Днем Рождения, Dr. Natalia Bekhtereva, and thank you for helping to explore the mysteries of the human brain!
Guest Artist Q&A with Victoria Semykina
Today’s Doodle was illustrated by Moscow-born guest artist Victoria Semykina. Below, she shares her thoughts behind the making of this Doodle:
Q: Why was this topic meaningful to you personally?
A: It was a coincidence that Google asked me to draw a Doodle dedicated to Natalia Bekhtereva, because I’d actually been reading various brain studies just before - I find them really interesting. Of course, I recognise her as one of the most important neuroscientists in Russia, and I was glad to immerse myself in her work while drawing.
Q: What were your first thoughts when you were approached about the project?
A: Honestly, I knew from the beginning that it would be challenging to draw a neuroscientist as it’s not an easy profession to depict (especially in a Doodle). I came up with some sketches using metaphors and abstract forms, and eventually the team and I decided to focus on the latter.
Q: Did you draw inspiration from anything in particular for this Doodle?
A: You may find it surprising that I took some inspiration from Kandinsky’ and Miro’ abstract paintings. I thought it would be interesting to draw neurons as abstract shapes and colors.
Q: What message do you hope people take away from your Doodle?
A: I really hope they will be curious about the fun, quirky letters in the Doodle. If they’re intrigued enough to look through the work Natalia did, I‘d be very happy - especially because when we learn something new our brain makes new neural pathways!
Early concepts of the Doodle