The Cognitive Neuroscience Society is holding its 22nd Annual Meeting in San Francisco on March 28-31, 2015. There is a full schedule of events, including Invited Symposia, Mini Symposia, Poster Sessions, as well as several award presentations. For those of us interested in neuroaesthetics, this year’s Keynote speaker is Anjan Chatterjee, who will be delivering a talk on “The neuroscience of aesthetics and art”. Save the date: Saturday, March 28, 2015, 2:00 – 3:00 pm. It’s open to the public!
What can neuroscience possibly tell us about aesthetics and art? In this talk, I will offer a framework from which a neuroscientist might decompose aesthetic experiences. I will discuss findings from neurology and cognitive neuroscience that reveal neural structures and networks engaged when we respond to beauty and react to art. I will consider the uneasy relationship between scientific aesthetics and the humanities, dispel some critiques, and acknowledge specific limitations of neuroaesthetics. Finally, informed by our understanding of the neural underpinnings of art, I will speculate about its evolution. Previous debates about whether art-making and appreciation represent an instinct or an epiphenomenon of other evolved capacities are probably not well-framed. I offer a third way to think about why we are now – and perhaps have always been – surrounded by these mysterious objects that we call art.