For over 40 years I’ve been a professional artist and clinical neuroscientist, merging the neurobiology research lab with the artist’s studio. Artistically, I am self-taught, and through my art, I explore the origins of thought, self-awareness, and awareness of others—the questions of what makes us human. The seed of art, planted by a childhood friend in Toronto, grew during medical school. As I began painting, my passion for art grew uncontrollably. After internship, I left medicine for 3 years to create art full time and had many exhibits and positive critical reviews. I started to feel guilty, however, that I was not using my neurology training to help others. I realized I must return to medicine and merge my art with neuroscientific investigation.

My artwork can be seen at www.plioplys.com and ranges from large-scale paintings, to prints on paper, site-specific installations, and LED light sculptures. I combine my earlier artwork with light to create exotic forms, just as our memories transform visual impulses into vast neuronal networks. I assemble and blend multiple layers, interweaving my own brain MRIs and EEGs. Drawings of cerebral cortical neurons are superimposed on and subtracted from surrounding color, revealing deeper layers of thought and memory. From neuronal complexity—words, thoughts, and consciousness emerge.

The cover art is from my light sculpture, Dreamscapes: Beckett’s Godot, on permanent display at the University of Chicago’s Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge, in The Sigita and Audrius V. Plioplys Atrium.

My neurologic work centered on cognition, from autism in children to Alzheimer disease in late life. I have published 79 articles, received research funding, and worked to improve care for children with cerebral palsy and severe disabilities. I pioneered vest therapy to prevent pneumonia in children with cerebral palsy—now used throughout North America.

Although I retired from clinical practice 10 years ago, I continue working as a full-time artist. I organized a year-long Hope and Spirit program, commemorating the 20 million victims of Stalin’s atrocities (detail shown below). For this work, I was honored Man of the Year 2012 by the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture in Chicago.