“Seahorse and Almond“ by the American academic and artist Janet Yagoda Shagam
The 'hippocampus' of the human brain lies (in pairs) in the two temporal lobes of the cerebrum. It is important for memory functions, amongst other things. Above all, at an adult age, it is often the starting point for epileptic (focal) fits. If fit-inhibiting drugs do not help sufficiently, it is sometimes advisable to have the hippocampus operatively removed ('hippocamoectomy').
In its form, this brain structure is reminiscent of a sea horse. The biological technical term for this sea-inhabiting member of the fish family is 'hippocampus' (from the Greek: 'hippos' = horse, kampulos = curved). The most famous type of sea horse, which is most frequently represented in pictures and is also reflected in this work of art (see below), is the 'long-nosed' or 'spotted' sea horse ('hippocampus guttulatus').
The 'almond kernel' is a translation of the Greek word for a part of the brain. It consists of a multitude of nerve cells, lies in close proximity to the hippocampus (also belongs to the temporal lobe area) and is actually reminiscent of the fruit of the almond tree in its form. The medical technical term for almond kernel is 'amygdalum' (from the Greek: 'amygdalä = almond tree, 'amygdalon' = almond).
Little is known about the function of the almond kernel, which is connected to the olfactory tract and the vegetative centre of the brain. Like the hippocampus, it is more often than not the starting point for epileptic (focal) fits. In the case of certain temporal lobe epilepsies which do not respond to fit-inhibiting drugs it may be advisable to have the almond kernel operatively removed along with the hippocampus ('amygdalo hippocampectomy').
The copperplate engraving "Seahorse and Almond" by the American academic and artist Janet Yagoda Shagam (from 2003) combines the two such apparently contrasting motifs, sea horses and the almond tree (with almond fruit and almond blossom). [in the four corners of the picture] in an artistically impressive and very appealing way, and in doing so closely connects the two themes 'visual arts' and 'epilepsy' in a contemporary and very up-to-date way.
taken from here