Neuro Humanities Studies

Summer School “Pathos. Forms and fortunes of literary emotions”, taking place on August 27-30th, 2019 in the amazing setting of Monopoli, Italy.

Plenary talks by Karin Kukkonen, Françoise Lavocat and Paolo Giovannetti.

We will work on emotions in different literary traditions through various perspectives and methods. Some of the topics and authors covered are: Elena Ferrante, Elsa Morante, sentimentalism, cognitive narratology, fact/fiction, and digital literary studies.

The Summer School is open to anybody interested in the topic, with credits available for graduate students.


Here is the full program:

Registration is open until June, 30th


Inhabiting immersive territories: neuroscientific and ecological perspectives on literature, videogames and the arts in the Anthropocene


While our natural habitat is being degraded by our inability to develop sustainable lifestyles on a planetary scale, arts create immersive environments, opening up new modes of inhabitation. Videogames, literature, cinema, theater, and visual arts design territories, inviting us to explore and to wander, to roam and to contemplate; unproductive activities that disrupt the cycles of neoliberalism and counter the cognitive styles it promotes.

These embodied activities are made possible by the reader/player/spectator’s capacity to immerse herself in texts, by her ability to enter altered states of consciousness. These states of consciousness allow us to dwell in secondary worlds, in which we can spend a significant part of our time and physiological resources, a significant part of our life. What can neuroscience, ecology and the humanities teach us about these states of consciousness, these modes of attention that modulate our encounter with artistic creations and their designed universes? And how do artists build these universes? How do they become a habitat for the “symbolic species” (to use Terrence Deacon’s words)? Can our daily frequentation of these territories change the way we relate to our geophysical, planetary environment?


It is around an intervention by neuroscientist Semir Zeki (University College of London) that we will engage with these questions. This conference is part of the Annual Neurohumanities Meetings held at Sorbonne Nouvelle since 2013, and is organized by the [Science/Literature] research group, EA 4398 PRISMES:


For more information please follow the link below:



250 words abstracts accompanied by a biographical note are to be sent before April 20, 2018, to

Notification of acceptance date: February 28, 2018


Scientific Committee

Alexa Weik von Mossner (Klagenfurt University)

Carl Therrien (University of Montreal)

Alexis Blanchet (Sorbonne Nouvelle)

Aude Leblond (Sorbonne Nouvelle)

Jonathan Hope (University of Quebec in Montreal)





























What is the meeting point between Science and Humanities?
How can common conceptual and lexical frameworks improve transdisciplinary research?


We are very pleased to announce that our fifth Neurohumanities Dialogue What is What? Focus on transdisciplinary concepts and terminology in Neuroaesthetics, Cognition and Poetics will take place in Catania, on 31st May and 1st June.
The aim of this year Dialogue is to focus on the terminological difficulties encountered during transdisciplinary research studies. Thanks to and due to the continuous discussion of the last years on the terms to be used in the scientific research, the project of a common ground for literary texts and arts analysis is feasible. What better occasion than a transdisciplinary and international Dialogue?
Different personalities will propose current studies and original points of view with the purpose of setting a possible common frame of terms and categories for future research.
Some of the brightest research leaders will give their contribution: Mark Turner, Alan Richardson, Semir Zeki, Arthur M. Jacobs and Helmut Leder.
Furthermore, other relevant specialists like Amy Cook, Pascal Nicklas, Pierre-Louis Patoine, Alexander Bergs, Silvia Bonacchi, Jana Lüdtke and Teresa Sylvester will partecipate and feed the debate.


For more information:





CFP: IGEL 2018 – Juli 25-28 2018, Stavanger

EXTENDED DEADLINE: January 20, 2018.

The International Society for the Empirical Study of Literature (IGEL) invites submissions to the 2018 biennial conference across all areas of the empirical study of literature and media, including but not limited to, cognitive processing of literature, literature/media and culture, neuroscience and literature, literary reception, reading and emotion, historical study of literature, and corpus analysis of literature.

Submissions may be accepted either as spoken presentations (individual papers or parts of pre-organized symposia) or as poster presentations. The format of spoken presentations (whether paper or symposia) is 20 minutes + 10 minutes for discussion.

The review committee requires a summary of the presentation. The summary should be 600-800 words and contain a short introduction, a description of the methods as appropriate, and a brief conclusion. The committee will not accept papers or posters based on data that have yet to be collected. Acceptance decisions will be communicated to the authors by March 15, 2018.

Submission Online submission system
(click on the “Abstracts” tab)

Submitters must provide the following information for each submission (see online registration for details):

  • Author information
  • Co-authors (if any)
  • Three to five relevant keywords
  • A 100-word abstract
  • You indicate the format (poster, paper, symposium paper) by ticking the appropriate box


Submitters download/attach the above-mentioned summary, which should include a title and be no longer than 600-800 words (not including bibliography). Please do NOT include author information in the summary.


It should contain a short theoretical introduction/framework, methodological overview (including quantitative or qualitative approach), key findings, and a brief discussion. The summary should be saved using a generic name (e.g. summary.pdf). Proposals that exceed the specified length will not be reviewed.

Inquiries about the submission process or the conference should be sent to (please put “IGEL” in the subject line).


Outstanding Student Paper Award

IGEL will give an Outstanding Student Paper Award. In order to be considered for this award, the first author must be a graduate student, and the student’s supervisor must send a recommendation to describing the student’s contribution to the research project. First authors should indicate the eligibility of their submission using the provided checkbox during the submission process.

Please check regularly and join us on Facebook for updates.


EXTENDED DEADLINE: January 20, 2018.


Additional Information

The official website of IGEL:
The IGEL 2018 conference website:

We look forward to seeing you in Stavanger for the 2018 IGEL conference!

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

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 (



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


NHS Dialogue 2014 – University of Catania

1st Transdisciplinary Dialogue:

Neuroaesthetics and Cognitive Poetics

6-7 June 2014



The research group of NeuroHumanitieStudies Project is proud to announce the 1st Transdisciplinary Meeting about Neuroaesthetics and Cognitive Poetics in Catania. The meeting will focus on the dialogue between Prof. Semir Zeki and Prof. Michael Burke.

Visit the website


Read flyer

Michael Burke is professor of rhetoric at the Humanities Faculty of UCR, Utrecht University  in Netherlands. His research interests range from rhetoric to neuroscience. He is member of several international projects about pedagogical stylistics, cognitive literary science and rhetorical pedagogy. Chair of the international Poetics and Linguistics Association (PALA) and member of many other research associations. His recent book, Literary Reading Cognition and Emotion: An Exploration of Oceanic Mind (2011) has broken a new path in the linguistic research field.–Dr–Michael-Burke.aspx


Semir Zeki  is a British neurobiologist who has specialized in studying the primate visual brain and more recently the neural correlates of affective states, such as the experience of love, desire and beauty that are generated by sensory inputs within the field of neuroesthetics. Professor of Neurobiology, since 2008 he is professor of Neuroestetics at UCL, his last three books, A Vision of the Brain (1993), Inner Vision: an exploration of art and the brain (1999); Splendors and Miseries of the Brain (2009) have opened the way to a new trans-disciplinary approach to art fruition and brain functions.


For further info please contact:

Simona Di Mari (
Prof. Renata Gambino (

Neurosciences – theater – literature: applied approaches

May 20 2014 - 4 to 7 pm


Institut du Monde anglophone – Grand amphithéâtre
Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3
5, rue de l’école de médecine – 75006 Paris
Métro Odéon



16h00 Alejandra Juno Rodríguez Villar (Duke University)

I didn’t know this was going to happen.” Calderón and why protagonists don’t have memories
Calderón de la Barca occupies, according to most literary critics, the pinnacle of the autos sacramentales theatrical genre. In this type of religious theater, Calderón exalted the mystery of Eucharist as part of the counter-reform propaganda. If the auto sacramental is usually a symbolic and allegoric genre, with Calderón, these plays reached an even higher level of philosophic ontology. One of his most cherished topics was the “Fall of Man,” or the idea of the original sin. This myth represents the foundation of Christian anthropology, and is also, a clear display of the traditional storytelling structure.

In the case of “El veneno y la Triaca”, Calderón offers a clear account of how the protagonist’s memory (or the lack thereof) is paramount in properly setting any general narrative structure. The conflict must be new to the protagonist, but at the same time, to facilitate the audience’s understanding, the conflict must convey the use of memory to properly explain what is happening on stage. This complex use of memory also explains the typical characters in conventional storytelling structures. The variety of different types of memories helps to advance the plot, while at the same time, balances the entropy and redundancy so that the audience feels engaged by the story.


16h20 Vanille Roche-Fogli (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3)

Une approche cognitive de la relation acteur, personnage, spectateur dans Le comédien désincarné de Louis Jouvet
Antonio Damasio écrit :

« […] notre connexion avec autrui passe non seulement par des images visuelles, du langage et des interférences logiques, mais aussi par quelque chose de plus profond dans notre chair : les actions par lesquelles nous pouvons représenter les mouvements des autres. Nous pouvons effectuer quatre formes de traduction : 1) mouvement réel, 2) représentations somatosensorielles du mouvement, 3) représentations visuelles du mouvement et 4) souvenir. […] Les bons acteurs, bien sûr, utilisent à la pelle ces procédés. » (L’autre moi-même – Les nouvelles cartes du cerveau, de la conscience et des émotions, 2010)

Cette réflexion d’un neuroscientifique de renom sur la pratique des acteurs soulève plusieurs points intéressants : l’empathie que ressent le spectateur pour le comédien découle de processus neurobiologiques et ceux-ci peuvent être manipulés consciemment et volontairement par l’artiste. Néanmoins, on pourra remarquer que Damasio décrit ici une relation directe entre l’interprète et le spectateur, alors que nous pourrions considérer qu’il s’agit d’une relation triangulaire, dont il laisse un terme de côté : le personnage. Au regard de ce que les recherches neuroscientifiques récentes nous apprennent sur les mécanismes d’identification, de projection et d’empathie, comment peut-on analyser les rapports de l’acteur à son rôle, du spectateur au personnage, et de l’artiste à son public ?

On proposera ici d’observer les modalités de cette relation triangulaire dans Le comédien désincarné de Louis Jouvet, ouvrage issu des notes prises entre 1939 et 1951 en répétition, en tournée, ou après ses cours au Conservatoire, en confrontant ses réflexions sur son expérience aux études récentes sur le système miroir (Rizzolatti), le cerveau projectif (Berthoz) et la conscience de soi (Damasio).


16h40 Gabriele Sofia (Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3 / MSH Paris Nord)

Le langage incarné du théâtre : hypothèses et données expérimentales
Au mois de mai 2010 s’est constitué à la Sapienza Università de Rome un groupe de recherche empirique et interdisciplinaire constitué par spécialistes du théâtre et neurophysiologistes. Ce groupe se propose d’étudier les mécanismes de cognition incarnée (embodied cognition) de l’acteur. Pour ce faire, il a réuni douze acteurs provenant de six troupes théâtrales. Ces acteurs ont été soumis à une série de tests qui avaient pour but d’explorer les mécanismes d’activation motrice relatifs aux processus de cognition linguistique. Ces recherches mettent en jeu une “Théorie du langage incarné” (Gallese et al. 2005; Buccino et al. 2001) selon laquelle l’élaboration linguistique, loin de reposer sur des représentations symboliques abstraites et conceptuelles, impliquerait l’activation du système moteur. Les expériences qui furent conduites avaient pour but de déterminer s’il existait une différence, au niveau de la cognition incarnée, entre des individus impliqués depuis des années dans un processus d’apprentissage de type théâtral et des individus privés de ce type d’apprentissage. Malgré leur caractère encore parcellaire, et bien qu’ils soient à l’évidence susceptibles de changements ultérieurs, les premiers résultats obtenus permettent d’établir une différence statistiquement significative entre les acteurs et les autres individus.


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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