TOPIC: Neural Connectivity 

ARTIST: Akiko Yamashita


Scientific Explanation:

Eureka! is an interactive installation exploring the science of how neurons make connections. The installation visualizes Hebb’s postulate: “neurons that fire together wire together”. Hebbian theory is a foundational neuroscience concept that aims to explain synaptic plasticity. 

Synapses are the connections between neurons. These are best described as “metaphysical connections” because neurons do not physically touch. However, the distance between neurons is less than 1000th the thickness of a hair strand. It is through these connections that neurons are able to communicate important information from one to the other. Synaptic connection makes up our thoughts, actions and how we experience the world around us. 

Creative Approach:

Visitors can view the intricate system of neurons across six layers of the prefrontal cortex by moving closer or further away, or pointing their arm side to side to rotate the neural network. Visitors can also make the neurons “fire together” by introducing an external stimuli. 

How to interact with the work:

  • To trigger a positive interaction, hold arms long at the side.
  • For a negative one, cross the arms at the chest. 
  • To give the sensation of doing something rewarding, hold your arms up in a “Y” shape like you are cheering. 
  • One hand touching the head triggers an “Aha!” moment, the inspiration behind the name.

Akiko Yamashita is a Los Angeles-based Japanese artist best known for her projection mapping and light installations. Her artworks explore visual illusions with prism-inspired spectrums of color. Yamashita is a former professional dancer with 15 years of experience, and enjoys working with music, fashion and architecture to provide solutions to light specific environments. Her light hallway “Portal” won a silver A’Design Award. Most recently she was featured in Apple keynote films as one of the new generation’s makers. Akiko was one of the featured artists for ARTECHOUSE DC’s In Peak Bloom in 2019.


Kristin Anderson, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow in the DOOR (Developmental Origins of Resiliency) Lab at Columbia University where she studies resilience, stress, and depression. She is a dedicated advocate for sustained federal investment in neuroscience and policies supporting biomedical research. Dr. Anderson worked closely with the ARTECHOUSE team to develop the storyboard of the neuron’s life to translate the scientific research into the experience.