2002 Conference on Neuroesthetics

The Pleasure of art as sensed by the brain

The subject of art in society has been discussed at length without any satisfactory conclusion. This is not surprising. Such discussions are usually conducted without any reference to the brain, through which all art is created, executed and appreciated. Art is a human activity and, like all human activities, including morality, law and religion, depends upon, and obeys, the laws of the brain. We are still far from knowing the neural basis of these laws, but spectacular advances in our knowledge of the visual brain allows us to make a beginning in studying the neural basis of visual art.

Sponsored by the Minerva Foundation and the Institute of Neuroesthetics, London, the conference is designed to:

  • Disseminate information about future directions in work on art and the brain
  • Provide a forum for scientists, artists, and others interested in the study of art or the brain
  • Highlight the importance of understanding the critical role of the brain in all human activities.



Jean-Pierre Changeux
Professor of Molecular Biology, College de France and Institut Pasteur
“A Neurocognitive and Evolutionary Approach to Art”

Ernst Poppel
Chair of the Board of Directors, Center for Human Sciences and Director of the Institute for Medical Psychology, University of Munich

Katherine Sherwood
 Artist and Associate Professor of Art Practice, University of California, Berkeley
“How a Cerebral Hemorrhage Altered My Art”

Vilayanur Ramachandran
 Professor of Neurosciences and Psychology, University of California, San Diego
“Synesthesia, Art and the Nature of Thought”

Hideo Sakata, Professor of Neurobiology
Nihon University, Tokyo
“Representation of Depth in Art and in the Brain”

John Searle
 Mills Professor of the Philosophy of Mind and Language
University of California, Berkeley

Mark Turner
Professor of English Language and Literature Doctoral Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, University of Maryland
“The Pleasure of Binding and Compression”

Semir Zeki
 Professor of Neurobiology, University College London
“The Function of Art is an Extension of the Function of the Brain