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2016 international Conference on Mobile Brain-Body Imaging and the Neuroscience of Art, Innovation and Creativity

Meeting Announcement
2016 International Conference on Mobile Brain-Body Imaging (MoBI) and the Neuroscience of Art, Innovation and Creativity 
Live Aqua, Cancun, Mexico 
The 2016 International Conference on Mobile Brain-Body Imaging (MoBI) and the Neuroscience of Art, Innovation and Creativity ( is organized by the University of Houston’s Non-Invasive Brain Machine Interface Systems Laboratory and the Blaffer Art Museum in collaboration with the Houston Methodist Center for Performing Arts Medicine and Technische Universität Berlin.
The conference will take place at the Live Aqua Resort ( in Cancun on July 24-27, 2016 and is by invitation only to ensure breadth and representation of all stake-holders. It seeks to unite thought-leaders and innovators acting at the intersection of the arts, neuroscience, engineering, media, industry, education and medicine to review the state of the art, identify challenges and opportunities and create a roadmap for the field moving forward to promote creativity and innovation leading to novel approaches to solving complex challenges in engineering, science, education and medicine while informing the emergent fields of neuroaesthetics and neurocreativity.
The goal is to provoke day-long discussion across five critical areas leading to the development of an strategic plan (RoadMap) for inclusion of the creative arts to foster creativity in science and engineering: 1) How best to achieve an advanced understanding of human responses to emotionally rich stimuli such as the creative arts, our physical environments, and our interactions with technology? 2) What is the best approach for uncovering basic neural mechanisms (‘reverse engineering’ the brain) underlying aesthetic and creative experiences? 3) What are the artistic, scientific and engineering challenges that affect collaboration and innovation? 4) How to promote or enhance creativity? 5) How to design new tools for understanding and promoting creativity, health, and wellness.
Topics to be addressed include but are not limited to:
  • Neural and behavioral individuality and variation
  • Cognitive, affective and neural processes in realistic, complex environments;
  • Neuroaesthetics
  • Arts, creativity and insight
  • Neuroengineering and brain-inspired art
  • Wearable MoBI technologies
  • Big data in neuroscience and cognitive science
  • Art therapy;
  • Cognitive, Medical and Pedagogical Applications
  • Brain-Computer Interfaces
  • Emotional Intelligence

Findings, including contributed papers and discussions, will appear in a special issue in the open source Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Talks will be organized in single-track but much time will be reserved for informal discussions, hands-on demonstrations, artistic performances, exhibitions, and interactions among researchers.

A doctoral/postdoctoral consortium will be an important part of the meeting to support the next generation of trans-disciplinary researchers and artists. Partial funding, based on a competitive curated selection of applicants, is available, please see conference website for further information and application procedure.
Trans-disciplinary faculty and artists are also invited to participate. Please contact the Conference Chair at (
For information about the schedule, current list of confirmed speakers, and sponsors, please visit

Artworks as dichotomous objects, by Robert Pepperell

Artworks as dichotomous objects: implications for the scientific study of aesthetic experience

Pepperell R (2015) Artworks as dichotomous objects: implications for the scientific study of aesthetic experienceFront. Hum. Neurosci9:295. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00295


This paper addresses an issue that has been studied from both scientific and art theoretical perspectives, namely the dichotomous nature of representational artworks. Representational artworks are dichotomous in that they present us with two distinct aspects at once. In one aspect we are aware of what is represented while in the other we are aware of the material from which the representation is composed. The dichotomy arises due the incompatibility, indeed contradiction, between these aspects of awareness, both of which must be present if we are to fully appreciate the artwork. Examples from art history are given to show how artists have exploited this dichotomy in a way that conditions our response to their work. I hypothesize that the degree of manifest dichotomy in a work determines the strength of its aesthetic effect, and propose this could be experimentally tested. I conclude that scientific studies of aesthetic experience should take the dichotomous nature of artworks into account.

Read the whole paper!

Combining universal beauty and cultural context in a unifying model of visual aesthetic experience, by C. Redies

New open-access paper just published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience:

Redies C (2015) Combining universal beauty and cultural context in a unifying model of visual aesthetic experienceFront. Hum. Neurosci. 9:218. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00218


In this work, I propose a model of visual aesthetic experience that combines formalist and contextual aspects of aesthetics. The model distinguishes between two modes of processing. First, perceptual processing is based on the intrinsic form of an artwork, which may or may not be beautiful. If it is beautiful, a beauty-responsive mechanism is activated in the brain. This bottom–up mechanism is universal amongst humans; it is widespread in the visual brain and responsive across visual modalities. Second, cognitive processing is based on contextual information, such as the depicted content, the intentions of the artist or the circumstances of the presentation of the artwork. Cognitive processing is partially top–down and varies between individuals according to their cultural experience. Processing in the two channels is parallel and largely independent. In the general case, an aesthetic experience is induced if processing in both channels is favorable, i.e., if there is resonance in the perceptual processing channel (“aesthetics of perception”), and successful mastering in the cognitive processing channel (“aesthetics of cognition”). I speculate that this combinatorial mechanism has evolved to mediate social bonding between members of a (cultural) group of people. Primary emotions can be elicited via both channels and modulate the degree of the aesthetic experience. Two special cases are discussed. First, in a subset of (post-)modern art, beauty no longer plays a prominent role. Second, in some forms of abstract art, beautiful form can be enjoyed with minimal cognitive processing. The model is applied to examples of Western art. Finally, implications of the model are discussed. In summary, the proposed model resolves the seeming contradiction between formalist perceptual approaches to aesthetic experience, which are based on the intrinsic beauty of artworks, and contextual approaches, which account for highly individual and culturally dependent aspects of aesthetics.