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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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?

Conference Report – NHS2015

Second NeuroHumanities Dialogue

Metaphors as a Source of Creative Thought

4-6 June 2015

NHS Research Group
Department of Humanities
University of Catania


On the dates of June 4-6, 2015, the University of Catania and the Teatro Machiavelli hosted the Second NeuroHumanities Dialogue on the theme of “Metaphors as a Source of Creative Thought”, organized by the NeuroHumanities Research Group based at the Department of Humanities of the University of Catania.

The event built on the success of last year’s NeuroHumanities Dialogue about “Neuroaesthetics and Cognitive Poetics” and expanded the number of sessions and participants, while promoting lively scholarly discussion through its tried and tested dialogical format, already introduced with the first meeting.

Specifically, the Second NeuroHumanities Dialogue addressed the issue of metaphor from a variety of points of view, ranging from cognitive and neural approaches to linguistics, literature, and art.

The conference program featured three dialogical sessions with two invited keynote speakers and six other speakers, together with a final roundtable-session with all the participants contributing to the discussion.

The opening address of the conference was delivered by the NHS research group leaders, Professor Grazia Pulvirenti and Professor Renata Gambino, who presented the NewHums – Neurohumanities Studies Research Centre, inaugurated in Catania on the 11 May 2015 with a guest lecture on “The Origin of Beauty” delivered by Prof. Semir Zeki, neurobiologist at the University College London. Newhums is the first research centre in Italy to be devoted to the analysis of such phenomena of human mind as memory, consciousness, imagination, cognition and learning, with a specific focus on creative processes. Professors Gambino and Pulvirenti explained that the centre is the result of a complex networking activity with both private and public scholarly institutions, in order to promote, coordinate, and publish research which put together neurological, cognitive, biological and digital studies with best practice and knowledge in the field of art, performance and the humanities.

Anjan Chatterjee, Professor of Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania, delivered the first keynote speech on the theme “Building Metaphors in the Brain”. Professor Chatterjee presented his current research on the neural bases of human cognition. He reported on behavioural experiments conducted on patients with cognitive disorder, aimed at investigating the neural underpinnings of such phenomena as relational thinking, spatial thought, and the procedures of abstraction and extraction that take place in our brains, especially when exposed to metaphorical language. Further experiments contrasting the patients’ reactions to novel and familiar metaphors gave evidence of two different cognitive strategies, pointing out that novelty in language demands a higher level of abstraction and increased cognitive control in order to creatively elaborate the sense of the sentence.

Second NeuroHumanities Dialogue

Metaphors as Source of Creative Thought

June 4, 5, 6, 2015

Neuro Humanities Studies
University of Catania
Department of Humanities

The Neuro Humanities Research Group of the University of Catania (Italy) is proud to announce the Second NeuroHumanities Dialogue, “Metaphors as source of creative thought”, which is going to take place on June 4, 6 and 7, 2015 at the Machiavelli Theatre, University Square, Catania (Italy).

The Neuro Humanities Studies Network, directed by Grazia Pulvirenti and Renata Gambino from  University of Catania, from 2011 aims at creating a multidisciplinary research community in order to develop and structure a linking platform for neuro-scientific, cognitive topics and humanities.

After an inspiring and ground-breaking First Neuro Humanities Dialogue about “Neuroaesthetics and Cognitive Poetics” at the University of Catania in 2014, the second edition of the Dialogue addresses relevant questions of the recent discussion about metaphors, such as: their cognitive value  and the concomitant neural processes, their embodied nature, the difference between metaphors conventionalized in language and discourse and novel ones, deliberate and non-deliberate metaphors.

Keynote speakers of the “Dialogue” 2015 are Neurologist Anjan Chatterjee from the University of Pennsylvania and Humanities Scholar Gerard Steen, Director of the Metaphor Lab and Professor of Language and Communication at the University of Amsterdam. The peculiarity of the meeting relies on its format: a real dialogue between two keynote speakers and ten discussants  from University of Osnabrück (Germany), Potsdam (Germany), Warsaw (Poland), Duke (USA), Paris III (Sorbonne Nouvelle, France), Bari, Palermo e Naples (Italy).

The convention is going to take place at the Machiavelli Theater, historic site in Catania, which was recently reopened thanks to the effort of the Department of Humanities at University of Catania and the non-profit Association INGRESSO LIBERO, founded in 2009 by the theatre director and pedagogue Lamberto Puggelli.

For further details, visit the website:


Grazia Pulvirenti
Renata Gambino

Assistant Director
Federica Abramo (

Secretary Office
Simona Di Mari (
Sabrina Apa (

Communication Office
Natalia Scandurra (


Neuro Humanities Studies Research Group
University of Catania
Monastero dei Benedettini
Piazza Dante, 32 – 95124 Catania


CFP: Scientific Study of Literature (SSOL)

Journal Special Issue: Transdisciplinary Approaches to Literature and Empathy

Guest Editors: Paul Sopcak, Massimo Salgaro & J. Berenike Herrmann

The journal of the Scientific Study of Literature (SSOL) is planning a special issue dedicated to empirically exploring the relationship between literature and empathy. In proposing this special issue we have three main interests: 1) The integration of literary, aesthetic and philosophical theories concerning literary reading and empathy with existing empirical findings; 2) The application of key distinctions from psychology and the neurosciences that highlight the multidimensionality and distinctness of the concept ‘empathy’ to the explication ad understanding of literary reading 3) The systematic empirical examination of the textual characteristics such as style, narrative form, character description, and genre that contribute to empathic responses in literature.


We invite contributions addressing one or more of the following themes:

  • The multidimensionality of the construct ‘empathy’ and related constructs, as well as phenomena from which it must be differentiated in the context of literary reading;
  • The role of textual/poetic characteristics in the relationship between literary reading and empathy;
  • Individual differences between (types of) readers and situational constraints on readers’ empathic responses;
  • Methodological aspects of researching the link between empathy and literature;
  • Novel interpretations of empirical findings on ‘empathy’ (and related constructs) in light of recent theoretical developments at the nexus of the neurosciences and philosophy, philosophy of mind, psychology, etc.


Contributor guidelines:
Please follow the journal’s submission guidelines for authors:

Deadline for submission of papers: 15 October 2015.


Please direct your queries to:
Paul Sopcak (, Massimo Salgaro (, and J. Berenike Herrmann (



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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