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“Just like the lotus we too have the ability to rise from the mud, bloom out of the darkness and radiate into the world.” – Unknown

Adam - Grey Matters collaboration between artist Emma Allen and neuroscientist Daisy Thompson-Lake.

This piece is an animated portrait illustrating some of the underlying neurological processes and emotions associated with depression.

Created with face paint and stop-motion animation.
Copyright Emma Allen

Written, Directed and Animated - Emma Allen
Produced - Daisy Thompson-Lake, Emma Allen
Performance - Malik Ibheis
Camera & Lighting - Robin Samson
Sound Design - Tudor Brothers
Post Production - Huxley Studios
Neuroscience Consultant - Daisy Thompson-Lake


Supported by - Artichoke, Queen Mary Center for Public Engagement, The Flash Pack, Huxley Studio and all the wonderful folk who donated to our crowdfunding campaign

The Grey Matters mission is to raise awareness by creating artistic impressions of underlying neurological processes involved in mental health disorders. Adam, the first film in the series, tackles the subject of depression.

Emma Allen


The pair met ten years ago when Daisy Thompson-Lake came to volunteer at Emma Allen’s charity project in Sri Lanka. The collaboration of Grey Matters began after Thompson-Lake saw Allen’s film ‘Ruby’ in 2014, and suggested using the same technique to illustrate the brain’s role in mental health disorders, such as depression and addiction.

The project took over two years of planning and fundraising and following a successful crowdfunding campaign, received several small grant awards, including Queen Mary Center for Public Engagement. The project gained support from scientists from the UK, US and Canada. ‘Adam’ premiered at London's Lumiere festival in January 2018 and was released publicly online in April 2018.

Allen and Thompson-Lake intend to raise funds to complete a series of films tackling neurological issues, using these films to raise awareness and understanding with short, accessible art films.


Neuroscientist Bio:

Daisy Thompson-Lake has worked in clinical neuropsychology for over 15 years covering, among other aspects, mental health and substance use disorder. She studied her Masters in neuroscience at the University of London, specialising in electroencephalogy, before moving to Texas to work at the prestigious Baylor College of Medicine, focusing in human neuroimaging.

Daisy Thompson-Lake is currently working at the Developmental Neuroscience Program at Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, UCL

Short breakdown a description of scenes - Scene-by-scene breakdown

Open with a shadow growing, whispering negativity, representing depression.

Side view to see a network of neurons.

Close up of a synapse between two neurons: neurotransmitters not being uptaken as they should be.

Top view of the brain; flash to positron emission tomography (PET) scan of a depressed brain followed by an emotional response to this.

The impression of a cross-section of the brain: activation in the hippocampus and the frontal lobe

The phrenology-style head displays the emotions and some of the physical reactions to depression, suggesting they are 'short-circuiting'.

‘Phrenology’ falls away revealing the ‘cogs of the mind', used to represent the complexities of the brain.

The pivotal point in the film: the brain starts ‘running smoothly’ and the depression starts to lift.

The PET scan returns, except this time we see it turning slowly from a depressed brain to a non-depressed brain.

Return to the synapse, but now with increased firing of our neurotransmitters, the second neuron receiving these efficiently.

A reprise of the silhouette of two faces, this time the shadow has turned to a more ‘caring side’ bringing him back to himself and us.

A lotus grows upwards and blossoms. representing an inner peace and the line
“Just like the lotus we too have the ability to rise from the mud, bloom out of the darkness and radiate into the world.” – Unknown

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Grey Matters- A Mini Documentary about my new project

Where mental health meets art - my new/ upcoming project

This is an introductory film made by Robin Samson about the making of and concept behind "Adam", a new short film combining Neuroscience and Art to tell a story about depression

This first short film of the GreyMatters series, that focuses on depression . We are currently fund raising to produce the film.

UPDATE - We have made the film. It is screening exclusively for Lumiere London from the 18-21 January and will be released online in a couple of months


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Greymatters -the making of Adam. by Robin Samson