Neuro Humanities Studies

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.

CFP: Cognitive Studies of Culture

An international conference at the University of Vienna
9-10 June 2014


The Conference Theme / Call for Papers


Recent research in the cognitive sciences has inspired a wealth of new approaches to the study of mind, consciousness and embodied experience. For researchers in the humanities, the cognitive turn has challenged long-established definitions of what it means to be human. This conference will scrutinise the implications of neuroscientific research on the ultimately human capacity to create culture (literature, art, music, etc).

Experts in cognitive poetics and the new sub-disciplines of Mind Reading (or Theory of Mind) and the Social Mind will be invited to discuss their understanding and vision of what the cognitive sciences can contribute to a better understanding of culture – as an abstract concept as well as an umbrella term that embraces a vast range of cultural practices.

Questions for debate revolve around the following topics:

  • In what ways have recent arguments about the inseparability between body and mind affected our understanding of culture?
  • Do the cognitive sciences offer new approaches to the understanding of the production and consumption (or aesthetic experience) of culture?
  • In what ways do literature and culture enable us to gain

Summer Program – Duke Neurohumanities in Paris

May 19 – June 28, 2014


This is a 6-week,  Session One, two credit program.


The Duke Neurohumanities in Paris global education program brings a vertically integrated and international learning community into sustained dialogue to advance theorizations at the crossroads of neuroscience and humanities systems of knowledge and disciplinary milieu.


Taught with a collaborative modular team faculty, the program will unfold in the context of deepening local knowledge of the history of cognitive science and of humanities that are germane to cognitive analysis. Faculty will invite a selection of guest lecturers who will assist in forging ties between Duke faculty and students and the local Parisian interdisciplinary neuroscience community.


You can find further information about mission and goals, program schedule, application process here Duke Neurohumanities in Paris


Call for Papers: IAEA 2014

The 2014 Congress of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics (IAEA)

will be held in New York City from August 22-24, 2014.


Deadline: 1 April 2014


The 2014 IAEA Congress is an opportunity for researchers and scholars from different domains and countries to present and share empirical research on aesthetics, creativity, and the psychology of the arts. Submissions may address questions concerning: aesthetic perception, appreciation, emotion, experience, and judgment; the creative process in various media and domains; cultural studies; musicology; art historical perspectives on aesthetics and creativity; architectural and design studies; museology; philosophical, theoretical, and methodological issues in aesthetics research; and others.


Detailed information about the Congress venues, program, submission guidelines, registration, travel, and accommodations may be found on the official Congress website:


Congress Organizing Committee: Aaron Kozbelt (Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center), Paul Locher (Montclair State University), Pablo Tinio (Queens College)


Questions about the 2014 Congress should be emailed to: 


For more information about IAEA, please visit:

CFP – 12th International conference on New Direction in the Humanities

Universidad CEU San Pablo - Madrid, Spain
11-13 June 2014


Submission Deadline: 6 February 2014



The Humanities Conference is held annually in different locations around the world. Over the past eleven years, the Humanities Conference has established a reputation as a focal point for new ideas and new practices in humanities research and teaching.

The conference will address a range of critically important themes in the various fields that make up the humanities today. Plenary speakers will include some of the world’s leading thinkers in the humanities, as well as numerous paper, workshop and colloquium presentations by teachers and researchers.

We are inviting proposals for paper presentations, workshops/interactive sessions, posters/exhibits, or colloquia (See Proposal Types) addressing the Humanities through one of the following themes:


Critical Cultural Studies Communications and Linguistics Studies
 Civic, Political, and Community Studies Literary Humanities
Humanities Education


For further Info:


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.

Click on each keyword to show papers related with it.

Research Network

Click on each point to show researchers involved. For more information about our research network, please check the Members section in the menu bar.
e-read logo