STORIES: Coloring Outside The Lines
Researchers: Science of the Arts working group

Imagine being able to design a classroom that enhanced learning or a hospital that facilitated even greater healing? These themes of perception, art and emotion have implications for our daily lives. And while the field is young, the basic perceptual neuroscience research that is in its infancy today will yield critical knowledge to inform many disciplines in the future.

In October 2010, The Science of the Arts speaker series launched the BSi’s expansion into the study of perceptual neuroscience and aesthetics. Conversations between the Brain Science Institute and The Walters Art Museum inspired the development of The Science of the Arts that was presented at The Walters, the Baltimore Museum of Art and the American Visionary Art Museum. For centuries, philosophers have speculated on the links between perception, beauty, creativity, and pleasure. In recent years scientists have learned a great deal about sensory systems and their response to the visual world, threedimensional space, sound, touch, tastes and smells. An instinctual knowledge and innate understanding of beauty is one of the most defining characteristics of what it means to be human. The capacity to be moved by images, forms, sounds, and movements are found among the artifacts of early man.

The Science of the Arts brought together artists, art historians, educators, psychologists and brain researchers to discuss questions and approaches to understanding the emerging field of perceptual neuroscience and aesthetics. The speaker series presented six collaborative conversations with researchers, architects, choreographers, painters, musicians, and composers. Lively discussions shared diverse perspectives, ideas and current research. Exploring not only how various types of perception occur, but also how these perceptions can take on the affective value and associations that become aesthetic experiences. Examples include, the power of faces and the human form to ignite an emotional response through the lens of color processing and perception; architectural understanding of form and function in parallel with three-dimensional spatial representation; and discussions of the neural basis of creativity expressed through music and complex movements. The Science of the Arts concluded with an interdisciplinary panel of prominent leaders discussion called The Future of a New Field: Questions, Directions and Debate. To further expand this program BSi developed an Innovation Exchange website for dialogue and has also participated in the Imagination Conversation with the Lincoln Center through the AEMS Alliance.

For more information, including videos of the panel collaborations, visit the previous events section of our website.

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