2005 Conference on Neuroesthetics

Empathy in the Brain and in Art


The Fourth International Conference on Neuroesthetics brought together scientists and artists to explore the mechanisms for empathy in the brain and the ways in which artists intuitively use these processes to express or evoke empathy.

The conference covered the theme of empathy at all levels – from the response of single cells in the brain, to brain areas engaged during empathetic experience, to the devices and strategies that artists, actors and photographers use to elicit the spectator's empathy and sympathy. 

Our distinguished speakers shared their insights into the mechanisms of a brain system that acts as a powerful social adhesive and is instrumental in communication – whether through language, art or music.


Vittorio Gallese
Associate Professor of Human Physiology, Department of Neuroscience, Physiology Section, University of Parma, Italy
"Intentional attunement: From Mirror Neurons to Empathy"

Ray Dolan
Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, Institute of Neurology, University College London
"From identity to emotional processing - an hierarchy in face processing"

Leonard Pitt
Writer and Movement Artist, Berkeley, California
"The Art of Face - a Mask, a Body, a Movement"

Aina Puce
Professor & Director of Neuroimaging, Center for Advanced Imaging, Department of Radiology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia
"The Neuroesthetics of Dynamic Face Perception"

Judy Dater
Photographer, Berkeley, California
"From Either Side: Portrait Photography and Emotional Identification"

Alice O'Toole
Professor, School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas
"Wandering through face space: Explorations into the opponent processes underlying the visual representations of faces"

Frances B.M. de Waal
Professor, Department of Psychology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
"Cultural Teachings from the Apes"

Paul Ekman
Professor Emeritus of  Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San  Francisco
"Recognizing the Subtleties in Facial Expressions"