Matthias Sperling: Now That We Know

Matthias Sperling returns to Lilian Baylis Studio in London with Now That We Know, a science fiction lecture exploring a future relationship between mind and body, on Thursday 1 and Friday 2 November.

Now That We Know explores a hypothetical future in which science has discovered precisely how our bodies give rise to our mind – there is no longer a gap between the two. It considers how dance and choreography could be expanded by this new understanding, and how society will be altered.

Matthias Sperling is a choreographer and performer working in London, originally from Canada. His work looks at close interactions between contemporary visual arts and the brain sciences, and has been presented in theatres and galleries internationally. Duet, Duet was performed at the Southbank Centre in 2010, and The Movers, a collaborative performance with Carlos Motta, was performed in The Tanks at Tate Modern in 2013. He also appeared in conversation with Guido Orgs at the Wellcome Collection last year to discussNow That We Know, as part of the exhibition States of Mind.

The show is also accompanied by a symposium – the Institute of Neurochoreography: First Open Congress, at 2.30pm on Friday 2 November. Speakers include neuroscientist Guido Orgs, artist and performance maker Choy Ka Fai and choreographer Colette Sadler, among others. Together, they envisage the first ‘official’ gathering for the fictional institute Sperling is imagining throughout the performance and his research.

For more information, see the press release and Matthias Sperling’s website

Postdoctoral position: Neuroaesthetics and your Brain on Dance

Postdoctoral position:

Neuroaesthetics and your Brain on Dance

The Laboratory for Noninvasive Brain-Machine Interface Systems invites applications for one National Science Foundation (NSF) -funded postdoctoral  position at the intersection of neuroscience, engineering and the arts. The postdoctoral trainee will work in the areas of neural interfaces, wearable devices, fMRI, and the visual and performing arts in collaboration with leading art institutions in Houston such as the Blaffer museum, the Children’s museum, the Museum of Fine Arts-Houston and the Methodist Center for Performing Arts Medicine.

The position is with the Laboratory for Noninvasive Brain-Machine Interface Systems research group, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Houston, Houston, Texas.  For more information about the department please follow the link:

The lab is directed by Professor Dr. Jose L ‘Pepe’ Contreras-Vidal (

Application deadline: 12-01-2015 (or as filled)


Jose L. Contreras-Vidal, Ph.D.
Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen University Professor
Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering & Biomedical Engineering
Director, Laboratory for Noninvasive Brain-Machine Interface Systems
University of Houston
W310 Engineering Building II
Houston, TX  77204-4005
713-743-4429 (O)
713-743-4444 (F)

Description: This project will deploy noninvasive Mobile Brain-body Imaging devices (MoBI) in public and private museums with the goal of assaying individuality and variation in neural activity as it occurs (e.g., “in action and context”) in a large and diverse group of people, including children, experiencing fixed and interactive art exhibits. The research also includes working with neurological music/visual therapists and performing/visual artists to decode intentionality and understand the creative process. Applications to education, art therapy and engineering innovations will be sought. This is a great opportunity for those candidates with interests/skills in both the arts and neuroscience/engineering.

Major responsibilities: The postdoctoral fellow will carry out original research  throughout the period of appointment. Results will be communicated in the form of scientific articles, conference presentations, demonstrations, performances etc. The candidate will work under the supervision of senior researchers with background in neural and cognitive engineering, machine learning, big data analytics, performing arts medicine and neuroscience, and the arts. There will also be opportunities for collaboration with scientists and physicians with the Methodist Hospital Center for Performing Arts Medicine and local museums in the Houston area.

The working time of a postdoctoral fellow is mainly devoted to research and public outreach, but may include supervision of undergraduate and graduate students working in the neuroaesthetic team.

Position summary: Full-time temporary employment. The position is limited to a maximum of three years. Salary is competitive commensurate with experience and skills.

Qualifications: Applicants should have a Ph.D’s degree (or Diploma) in an area of Engineering or Applied Math, or an equivalent or similar background. Expertise or a degree in the Visual or Performing Arts is advantageous. Expertise in two of the following: biomedical signal processing, EEG, motion sensing, scientific programming, arts, neuroscience are required. Furthermore, the position requires sound verbal and written communication skills in English. High grades in relevant undergraduate courses, C/C++ and hardware implementation experience are advantageous.

University and Department: The University of Houston is located in a park-like campus close to major energy companies and the Texas Medical Center, the largest in the world, and NASA. The Carnegie Foundation recognized UH as a public research university with very high research activity. The department has embarked on an exciting period of research growth driven by committed leadership. Houston is a thriving city with an internationally diverse population, first-rate recreational opportunities, excellent schools, and affordable housing. The University of Houston, a designated Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), is among the top 25 colleges and universities granting undergraduate and graduate degrees to Hispanics and among the top 50 for enrolling Hispanic graduates and undergraduates. Additionally, the University ranks among the top 25 institutions for full-time, four-year undergraduate and graduate enrollment. The University of Houston is an ADVANCE institution, one of a select group of universities funded by NSF in support of our commitment to increase diversity and the participation and advancement of women in STEM.

Forthcoming: Art, Aesthetics and the Brain

Watch out for this new book, which will be released July this year: Huston, J. P.; Nadal, M.; Mora, F.; Agnati, L. F. & Cela-Conde, C. J. (Eds.) (2015). Art, Aesthetics and the Brain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

oup cover


Humans have engaged in artistic and aesthetic activities since the appearance of our species. Our ancestors have decorated their bodies, tools, and utensils for over 100,000 years. The expression of meaning using color, line, sound, rhythm, or movement, among other means, constitutes a fundamental aspect of our species’ biological and cultural heritage. Art and aesthetics, therefore, contribute to our species identity and distinguish it from its living and extinct relatives.

Science is faced with the challenge of explaining the natural foundations of such a unique trait, and the way cultural processes nurture it into magnificent expressions, historically and ethnically unique. How does the human brain bring about these sorts of behaviors? What neural processes underlie the appreciation of painting, music, and dance? How does training modulate these processes? How are they impaired by brain lesions and neurodegenerative diseases? How did such neural underpinnings evolve? Are humans the only species capable of aesthetic appreciation, or are other species endowed with the rudiments of this capacity?

This volume brings together the work on such questions by leading experts in genetics, psychology, neuroimaging, neuropsychology, art history, and philosophy. It sets the stage for a cognitive neuroscience of art and aesthetics, understood in the broadest possible terms. With sections on visual art, dance, music, neuropsychology, and evolution, the breadth of this volume’s scope reflects the richness and variety of topics and methods currently used today by scientists to understand the way our brain endows us with the faculty to produce and appreciate art and aesthetics.


Section One: Foundational Issues 

  1.  Neuroculture: A new cultural revolution?, Francisco Mora
  2. Art, meaning, and aesthetics: the case for a cognitive neuroscience of art, William P. Seeley
  3. States, people, and contexts: Three psychological challenges for the neuroscience of aesthetics, Kirill Fayn and Paul J. Silvia
  4. Aesthetic appreciation – convergence from experimental aesthetics and physiology, Helmut Leder, Gernot Gerger and David Brieber
  5. The moving eye of the beholder. Eye-tracking and the perception of paintings, Christoph Klein and Raphael Rosenberg

Section Two: Cognitive Neuroscience of Visual Aesthetics and Art 

  1. Neural mechanisms for evaluating the attractiveness of faces, Spas Getov and Joel S. Winston
  2. Indeterminate art works and the human brain, Robert Pepperell and Alumit Ishai
  3. Contextual bias and insulation against bias during esthetic rating: the implication of VMPFC and DLPFC in neural valuation, Ulrich Kirk and David Freedberg
  4. Neuroimaging studies of making aesthetic products, Oshin Vartanian

Section Three: Cognitive Neuroscience of Dance 

  1. Beautiful embodiment: The shaping of aesthetic preference by personal experience, Emily S. Cross
  2. Sensorimotor aesthetics: Neural correlates of aesthetic perception of dance, Beatriz Calvo-Merino
  3. Towards ecological validity in empirical aesthetics of dance, Julia F. Christensen and Corinne Jola

Section Four: Cognitive Neuroscience of Music 

  1. Liking music: Genres, contextual factors, and individual differences, Kathleen A. Corrigall and E. Glenn Schellenberg
  2. Tension-resolution patterns as a key element of aesthetic experience: psychological principles and underlying brain mechanisms, Moritz Lehne and Stefan Koelsch
  3. From pleasure to liking and back: Bottom-up and top-down neural routes to the aesthetic enjoyment of music, Elvira Brattico
  4. Effects of expertise on the cognitive and neural processes involved in musical appreciation, Marcus T. Pearce

Section Five: Neuropsychology of Art and Aesthetics 

  1. The neuropsychology of visual art, Anjan Chatterjee
  2. The creation of art in the setting of dementia, Indre Viskontas and Suzee Lee
  3. Hemispheric specialization, art, and aesthetics, Dahlia W. Zaidel

Section Six: The Evolution of Art, Aesthetics, and the Brain 

  1. Towards a comparative approach to empirical aesthetics, Gesche Westphal-Fitch and W. Tecumseh Fitch
  2. Art and brain coevolution, Camilo J. Cela-Conde and Francisco J. Ayala
  3. Art as a human “instinct-like” behaviour emerging from the exaptation of the communication processes, Luigi F. Agnati, Diego Guidolin, and Kjell Fuxe

Section Seven: Integrative Approaches 

  1. Neurobiological foundations of art and aesthetics, Edmund T. Rolls
  2. Aesthetic evaluation of art: a formal approach, Alexander J. Huston and Joseph P. Huston
  3. Tempos of eternity: music, volition, and playing with time, Barbara G. Goodrich