Neuro Humanities Studies

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Arthur M. Jacobs, Isabel C. Bohrn, Ulrike Altmann, Oliver Lubrich, Winfried Menninghaus, When we like what we know – A parametric fMRI analysis of beauty and familiarity

This paper presents a neuroscientific study of aesthetic judgments on written texts. In an fMRI experiment participants read a number of proverbs without explicitly evaluating them. In a post-scan...

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Fourth NeuroHumanities Dialogue 2017 – Space and Time in the Brain

NewHums Research Centre – Neurocognitive and Humanities Studies
International NeuroHumanities Studies Network
Lamberto Puggelli Foundation
University of Catania

Fourth NeuroHumanities Dialogue
Space and Time in the Brain


29 – 30 May 2017



Following the three NeuroHumanities Dialogues focused on “Neuroaesthetics and Cognitive Poetics” (2014), “Metaphors as source of creative thought” (2015) and “Ars et Ingenium: The Processes of Imagination” (2016), the NewHums Research Centre of the University of Catania is pleased to announce the Fourth Dialogue between neuroscientists and humanists.

The event will take place at the Benedictine Monastery in Catania. The topic of the 2017 Dialogue is: Space and Time in the Brain

Keynote speakers are (in alphabetic order):
Arthur M. Jacobs, Professor of Experimental and Neurocognitive Psychology at the Freie Universität Berlin
Patrick Colm Hogan, Professor of English at the University of Connecticut
Raoul Schrott, Austrian poet, writer and literary critic
Semir Zeki, Professor of Neuroaesthetics at the University College London
Agata Copani, Professor of Farmacology at the University of Catania
Daniela Giordano, Professor of Information-Processing Systems at the University of Catania
Vincenzo Branchina, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Catania

The peculiarity of the meeting relies on its format: a real dialogue between scientists and humanities scholars with plenty of time for discussion and a final roundtable with respondents.

Main focus of this year Dialogue is the investigation of the perception system and cognitive system analysis of Space and Time in the Brain. The way in which we approach to literary texts, work of arts and everything which is shaped and created by our mind involves different mental activities. These also include the elaboration of two great mysteries of human perception: the space, which surrounds us but also includes us, and the time which accompanies us during the act of fruition. Since ancient times philosophers and scientists have been tried to grasp and define space and time, because they are among the basic vital relations of the human being. They build up the framework of our perception, experience and cognition. Their representation can be traced back in the old myths about the origin of mankind, like the Greek personification of time, the God Cronus, and the concept of Kairos intended as the supreme moment.
Epistemology and ontology of space and time and their representation in human cognition have been the focus of attention in both scientific research as well as in philosophy, aesthetics and literature. The ongoing research regards the underlying neural correlates of temporal and spatial processing, the interrelation between processes and representations of time and space, the disturbs in time and space perception, the combination of space and time into an interwoven continuum by applying mathematical models, the developments of Einstein’s theory of relativity, and many further issues related with the spatio-temporal cognition. As in case of the most complex and fascinating features of the human mind-brain, many questions are still unanswered and require a trans-disciplinary approach in order to gain new insights.
During the new NHS Dialogue we intend to approach to the mysteries of Space and Time from the perspectives of disciplines like neuroaesthetics, neurocritics of art, neurophenomenology, neuropsychology, cognitive linguistics, and literary studies.

Further information can be found at the conference website:

E-READ: Third Call for Short Term Scientific Mission (STMS) Proposal

Deadline: November 1st 2016

Please find three files with the relevant documents for the Call for STSM applications and keep in mind that we have introduced new assessment criteria for our STSMs:

  1. Call for STSM Applications
  2. Email template for disseminating call for STSM Applications
  3. New assessment criteria for the evaluation committee, which has been approved by the MC

Don’t hesitate to contact STSM Manager Massimo Salgaro for further explanations.




New article on the theoretical framework of E-READ

The NHS is partner of the E-READ Evolution of reading in the age of digitalization (COST Action IS1404) project. The goal of this Action is to improve scientific understanding of the implications of texts digitization, hence helping individuals, disciplines, societies and sectors across Europe to cope optimally with the effects. Based on a multidimensional, integrative model of reading, and combining paradigms from experimental sciences with perspectives (e.g., diachronic) from the humanities, the Action will develop new research paradigms, and metrics for assessing the impact of digitization on reading. These metrics enable the development of evidence-based knowledge of paper and screen reading, and provide guidance for practitioners, policy makers, publishers and designers.

Recently an article presenting the theoretical framework of E-READ has been published with Open Access in the journal Literacy. You can download and read the article “The evolution of reading in the age of digitisation: an integrative framework for reading research” by Anne Mangen & Adriaan van der Weel from here:






Cooper, Danielewski, Frey, Palahniuk

Pierre-Louis Patoine

ENS Éditions


Un livre peut-il faire mal? Plongé dans un texte littéraire, le lecteur fait parfois l’expérience de sensations tactiles, douloureuses, musculaires, viscérales. C’est la «lecture empathique». Mais comment expliquer ce passage du sens au sensori-moteur ? Neuropsychologie, phénoménologie, études culturelles, théories de la fiction et de la littérature sont ici convoquées pour répondre à cette question intrigante, au fil d’un parcours révélant les œuvres de quatre auteurs qui ont marqué la littérature américaine des années 1990 et 2000 (Dennis Cooper, James Frey, Chuck Palahniuk et Mark Z. Danielewski). En mettant l’accent sur l’expérience de la littérature plutôt que sur son interprétation, le modèle développé dans cet ouvrage permet de repenser la question de la valeur artistique en termes de puissance sensorielle et d’immersion, dessinant le projet d’une lecture plus corporelle, d’une lecture empathique.


Can we feel the pain of a character in a novel? Immersed in a fiction, a reader may experience various somatosensory feelings. Such an experience of “empathic reading” is hardly conceivable through theories of interpretation that ignore the role of the biological body. On the contrary, an approach embracing embodied cognition, that weaves together neurology and literature, phenomenology and theories of fiction to discuss the era-defining, turn-of-the-millenium works of American writers Dennis Cooper, James Frey, Chuck Palahniuk and Mark Z. Danielewski, reveals the role of empathy in literary reading. This approach not only elucidates an intriguing phenomenon, it also redefines artistic value in terms of sensory impact and fictional immersion, thus promoting a richly embodied mode of reading, an empathic reading.


Version papier disponible sur:

Version électronique disponible sur OpenEdition books:

CFP: Emotions and Cognition: Philosophy, Psychology, and Neuroscience in Dialogue

RiFP – Rivista internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia

Deadline: September 30, 2016


What is an emotion? What is the relationship between emotion and cognition? How can one best articulate the distinction, if there is one, between cognition and emotion? What is the function of emotion with respect to cognition? And what contribution can neuroscience make to our understanding of emotions and the relationship between cognition and emotion? These are just a few of the key questions addressed by those philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists who investigate emotional experience.

RiFP – Rivista internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia, with the support of SINe – Società italiana di Neuroetica e Filosofia delle Neuroscienze, seeks to promote a broad interdisciplinary discussion on these themes for the first issue in 2017. RIFP and SINe invite all scholars who wish to contribute to this discussion to send original manuscripts on the relationship between emotion and cognition, from a theoretical and/or empirical and/or historical approach. The sub-themes of the present call for papers include, but are not limited to:

(a) work that focuses, including from a historical perspective, on the relationship between emotions and knowledge, by defining the possible differences between, or identity of, emotional experiences and cognitive processes. The relationship

Free online course on Medical Neuroscience – Coursera



Medical Neuroscience explores the functional organization and neurophysiology of the human central nervous system, while providing a neurobiological framework for understanding human behavior. In this course, you will discover the organization of the neural systems in the brain and spinal cord that mediate sensation, motivate bodily action, and integrate sensorimotor signals with memory, emotion and related faculties of cognition. The overall goal of this course is to provide the foundation for understanding the impairments of sensation, action and cognition that accompany injury, disease or dysfunction in the central nervous system. The course will build upon knowledge acquired through prior studies of cell and molecular biology, general physiology and human anatomy, as we focus primarily on the central nervous system.

This online course is designed to include all of the core concepts in neurophysiology and clinical neuroanatomy that would be presented in most first-year neuroscience courses in schools of medicine. However, there are some topics (e.g., biological psychiatry) and several learning experiences (e.g., hands-on brain dissection) that we provide in the corresponding course offered in the Duke University School of Medicine on campus that we are not attempting to reproduce in Medical Neuroscience online. Nevertheless, our aim is to faithfully present in scope and rigor a medical school caliber course experience.


This course comprises six units of content organized into 12 weeks, with an additional week for a comprehensive final exam:

- Unit 1 Neuroanatomy (weeks 1-2). This unit covers the surface anatomy of the human brain, its internal structure, and the overall organization of sensory and motor systems in the brainstem and spinal cord.

- Unit 2 Neural signaling (weeks 3-4). This unit addresses the fundamental mechanisms of neuronal excitability, signal generation and propagation, synaptic transmission, post synaptic mechanisms of signal integration, and neural plasticity.

- Unit 3 Sensory systems (weeks 5-7). Here, you will learn the overall organization and function of the sensory systems that contribute to our sense of self relative to the world around us: somatic sensory systems, proprioception, vision, audition, and balance senses.

- Unit 4 Motor systems (weeks 8-9). In this unit, we will examine the organization and function of the brain and spinal mechanisms that govern bodily movement.

- Unit 5 Brain Development (week 10). Next, we turn our attention to the neurobiological mechanisms for building the nervous system in embryonic development and in early postnatal life; we will also consider how the brain changes across the lifespan.

- Unit 6 Cognition (weeks 11-12). The course concludes with a survey of the association systems of the cerebral hemispheres, with an emphasis on cortical networks that integrate perception, memory and emotion in organizing behavior and planning for the future; we will also consider brain systems for maintaining homeostasis and regulating brain state.

2nd International Conference Food and Culture in Translation

19 – 21 May 2016
University of Catania 

Click on the image below to download the programme


Training School: “Empirical Methods for Humanities Scholars”

Dates of the Training School: 22 – 24 September 2016


The International Society for Empirical Studies of Literature (IGEL) is collaborating with the COST Action group E-READ to organize its first Training School in Empirical Methods for the Humanities. The Training School will be hosted by the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt am Main, Germany on the 22d until the 24th of September of this year.

The aims of the Training School are to teach early career researchers coming from the Humanities the basics of empirical research methodology and to stimulate interdisciplinary collaboration. The participants will learn – through lectures and hands on sessions – to design and set up an experiment; to decide on measuring devices and statistical tests, to use statistical procedures to explore data and conduct basic inferential tests, and to report results.

Integral to this training school is the mentor system we are currently setting up. We will match every participant to a researcher that is a member of our IGEL/E-Read community with similar research interests. That researcher will mentor the participant before the training school – providing guidance to the participant to further develop their research question – and after the training school – collaborating with the participant to conduct and report the experiment developed during the training school.

There are 10 places available in the training school. These 10 participants will be awarded a fellowship that covers the accommodation (incl. breakfast), the training school (incl. lunch and coffee) and a social activity on Saturday afternoon.If you want to participate, please send your application, including:

  • Your personal information (name, affiliation, research area/interest)
  • A brief motivation of why you would like to participate in the training school
  • A research question plus a brief description of the research project you would like to develop over the course of the training school

to Dr. Moniek Kuijpers before the 30th of May.

If you have any questions about the training school or the application procedure you can send an email to

Third NeuroHumanities Dialogue

For details about programme, registration and fees, please visit the website:


The Neuro Humanities Studies Network aims at creating a multidisciplinary research community in order to develop and structure a linking platform for neuro-scientific, cognitive topics and humanities.

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Research Network

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