Neuro Humanities Studies

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Arthur M. Jacobs, Roel M. Willems, Caring About Dostoyevsky: The Untapped Potential of Studying Literature

Should cognitive scientists and neuroscientists care about Dostoyevsky? Engaging with fiction is a natural and rich behavior, providing a unique window onto the mind and brain, particularly for...

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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.


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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:

NHS 2016 – Third NeuroHumanities Dialogue


Third International Neurohumanities Dialogue

Ars et Ingenium
the Processes of Imagination

May 26, 27, 28, 2016

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


The NewHums Research Center – Neurocognitive and Humanities Studies of the University of Catania (Italy), the International NeuroHumanities Studies Network and the Lamberto Puggelli Foundation are proud to announce the Third NeuroHumanities Dialogue, “Ars et Ingenium: the Processes of Imagination”, which is going to take place on May 26, 27 and 28, 2016 at the Benedictine Monastery of Piazza Dante, Catania (Italy), with the participation of the most important scholars working on this topic, such as Semir Zeki and Mark Turner among many others prominent researchers.


After an inspiring and ground-breaking First NeuroHumanities Dialogue about “Neuroaesthetics and Cognitive Poetics” at the University of Catania in 2014, and a Second NeuroHumanities Dialogue on “Metaphors as source of Creative Thought” in 2015, the third edition of the Dialogue (organized by The NewHums Research Center – Neurocognitive and Humanities Studies, directed by Grazia Pulvirenti, and the International NeuroHumanities Studies Network, directed by Grazia Pulvirenti and Renata Gambino from the University of Catania), will be focused on the cognitive value and neural processes of Imagination. Art in general, and literature in particular, are a favoured object to reflect meta-critically upon the “imaginative processes” of imagination as a complex multimodal and emergent phenomenon implying cognitive and emotional activations.

Thus, this year dialogue will address relevant questions of the recent discussion about imagination, such as: its cognitive value and the concomitant neural processes; the reason why imagination is such an important factor in human experience; how imagination arises in the human, how it can be measured and improved.


Keynote speakers of the “Dialogue” 2016 are


  • On afternoon May 26

Semir Zeki, neurobiologist and founder of Neuroaesthetics from University College of London;
Mark Turner, cognitive scientist and founding director of the Cognitive Science Network from Case Western Reserve University


  • On morning May 27

Deborah Jenson, humanities scholar and coordinator of the NeuroHumanities Research Group of Duke University;
Arthur M. Jacobs, experimental and neurocognitive psychologist from Free University of Berlin


  • On afternoon May 27

Helmut Leder, Head of the Department of Basic Psychological Research and Research Methods at the University of Vienna;
Gabrielle Starr, Dean of the College of Arts and Science at New York University


The peculiarity of the meeting relies on its format: a real dialogue between two keynote speakers each session and invited scholars from international institutions, who will join the dialogue as discussants during the conference days and the final round-table of the 28th May.


The convention is going to take place at the Palazzo del Rettorato of Piazza Università on the 26th May, and it is going to continue at the Benedictine Monastery, historic site in Catania, which today hosts the Department of Humanities (DISUM) of the University of Catania.


For further information, please visit



NewHums Research Center – Neurocognitive and Humanities Studies
International NeuroHumanities Studies Network
Department of Electric, Electronic and Computer Engineering
Department of Mathematics and Computer Sciences
Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences
Department of Chemical Sciences
Department of Humanities
University of Catania
Lamberto Puggelli Foundation


Giovanni Gallo, Renata Gambino, Daniela Giordano, Grazia Pulvirenti, Giuseppe Spoto, Mario Zappia



Grazia Pulvirenti and Renata Gambino
NewHums Research Center – Neurocognitive and Humanities Studies
International NeuroHumanities Studies Network
Department of Humanities
Monastero dei Benedettini
Piazza Dante, 32 – 95124 Catania



Administrative Office
Federica Abramo (


Foundation Administrative Office
Elena Maita (



Book: Goethe und Evolution


Werner A. Müller, R-Evolution des biologischen Weltbildes bei Goethe, Kant und ihren Zeitgenossen. Springer Spektrum, ISBN 978-3-662-44793-2

Die ungeheure Menge an Faktenwissen, das die Biologie heutzutage vorweist, erlaubt es kaum noch jemandem, einen Blick zurück auf die Wissenschaftsgeschichte zu werfen. Und doch bietet ein solcher Rückblick ein spannendes Erlebnis. Von den Philosophen des antiken Griechenland bis zu Darwin und weiter bis zu Ganzheitslehren einerseits und Versuchen der jüngsten Zeit, Leben im Labor neu zu erzeugen, andererseits, führt dieser konzentrierte Führer durch die europäische Wissenschaftsgeschichte. Im Mittelpunkt stehen Goethe und seine Zeitgenossen, die einen revolutionären Wandel des Weltbildes einleiteten und die Erkenntnis gewannen, dass der Mensch Ergebnis einer langen Evolutionsgeschichte ist. Zwar gibt es speziell zu Goethe viele Abhandlungen aus der Feder von Geisteswissenschaftlern, doch es fehlt eine Bewertung seiner Aussagen aus der Sicht der heutigen Biologie. Dieses Buch verweist auf die sich anbahnende neue R-EVOLUTION, die zum Ziel hat, neues Leben nach dem Plan des Menschen zu schaffen.

Post-Doc position at Berlin School of Mind and Brain

Postdoctoral position in Berlin with Vittorio Gallese

Full time, salary level E13 TV-L HU
Please quote Ref. No. “Gallese DR/008/16”
Starting as soon as possible (1 March/1 April), ending 31 December 2018
Deadline: 5 February 2016

About the research position

The position will be based at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, under the supervision of Professor Vittorio Gallese, Einstein Visiting Fellow 2016-2018. Research and training at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain focuses on the interface between the humanities and the neurosciences. The graduate school is situated in lively part of central Berlin. More information about the graduate school and its research environment can be found on this website.

He/she will be a member of the Einstein Visiting Fellow’s group at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain and will support the Einstein Visiting Fellow in the organization of his Einstein working group and scientific events (workshops, conferences). He/she will be expected to teach 1-2 courses per semester at master’s and/or doctoral levels and assist in supervision of doctoral candidates.

The successful candidate will also become a member of the hosting institution Berlin School of Mind and Brain at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. She/he will be member of a postdoctoral program that offers networking opportunities, travel funds, teaching portfolio development, mentoring, and other career development measures.

The position is funded by the Einstein Foundation Berlin.


The research project

The Einstein Visiting Fellow Vittorio Gallese’s project focuses on the development of socio-cultural identity (read more). The postdoctoral candidate is expected to take an active role in the investigation of critical factors for the emergence of we-centric space and we-identity in social cognition.

Questions to be considered are:

  • How does the emotion expressed by the overserved agent facilitate the correct prediction of her motor intention?
  • How does the emotional state of the observer (experimental subject) affect the perception of the intentions behind the actor’s actions?
  • What is the role of the motor intentionality in the emergence of we-centric space in social interaction?

The research methods used in the project will include behavioral studies combined with recordings of autonomic activity, fMRI, EEG.


Further Info

CFP: Cognitive Future in Humanities 2016

University of Helsinki, Finland
13-15 June 2016

Merja Polvinen
Karin Kukkonen

In cooperation with:
Department of Modern Languages, University of Helsinki
Federation of Finnish Learned Societies

Confirmed plenary speakers:
Peter Garratt (Durham)
Pirjo Lyytikäinen (Helsinki)
Anne Mangen (Stavanger)
Jean-Marie Schaeffer (CNRS)
Deirdre Wilson (UCL)

Building on the conferences associated with the network Cognitive Futures in the Humanities in Bangor (2013), Durham (2014) and Oxford (2015), the 2016 conference in Helsinki aims once again to bring together a wide array of papers from the cognitive sciences, philosophy, literary studies, linguistics, cultural studies, critical theory, film, performance studies, musicology and beyond.

In accordance with the original purpose of the network, the aims of the conference are:
(1) to evolve new knowledge and practices for the analysis of culture and cultural objects, through engagement with the cognitive sciences
(2) to assess how concepts from the cognitive sciences can in turn be approached using the analytical tools of humanities enquiry (historical, theoretical, contextual)
(3) to contest the nature/culture opposition whose legacy can be identified with the traditional and ongoing segregation of scientific and aesthetic knowledge.

We continue to examine these issues through a variety of approaches from cognitive sciences and the humanities, and draw on methods ranging from quantitative research to critical theory. The topics studied include mindreading or mentalizing, embodiment, ‘bio’ narratives and biocentrism, perception and memory, affect and emotion, performance, movement and kinesis, subjectivity/qualia and the narrated self, conceptual blending, multimodality, linguistic creativity and figurative language, bilingualism/multilingualism, translation and digital text processing.

To examine these and other related phenomena, we invite proposals addressing e.g. the following questions:

  • How are cognitive universals related to sociohistorical particulars?
  • What changes have taken place in conceptualisations of cognition, and what are the connections of those changes to cultural and historical contexts?


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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