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PODCAST: The Wide World of Neuroaesthetics

[ 5 ] December 16, 2009 | Noah Hutton
The University of Copenhagen, pictured above, hosted the first annual Copenhagen Neuraesthetics Conference.

The University of Copenhagen, pictured above, hosted the first annual Copenhagen Neuraesthetics Conference.

This month, in our inaugural edition of The Beautiful Brain Podcast, we explore the young and somewhat chaotic world of neuroaesthetics, which seeks to answer questions about creativity, the mind of the artist, and the mind of the observer. Noah reports on his trip to the Copenhagen Neuroaesthetics Conference and interviews John Onians, a founder and pioneer of neuroarthistory, which uses the empirical findings of neuroscience to help explain historical trends and cultural differences in visual art across centuries and around the world. Total runtime: 32’00″[podcast][/podcast]

Podcast on iTunes:

Comments (5)

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  1. Larry Fleming says:

    This is a fascinating project and web site. I am left brained and I am always amazed by those that use their creative side. How can a painter transform a a blank page to a picture of reality. I admire actors the same way. The way they take on another personality to become the character they are playing through Method acting. My mother is 86 and has short term memory loss, why and what can be done? The final frontier is not in outer space, it’s in inner space.
    Great job, I wish you Gods speed with this endeavour.

  2. Nice Podcast. I especially appreciate how you asked the question about hard science evidence, which led to the important discussion about the amount of evidence needed for scientists to make conclusions vs. people in the arts and humanities. Have you heard of Anjan Chatterjee at Penn? He has interests in visual asthetics, and he is a solid cognitive neuroscientist. You may want to talk to him.

  3. Noah Hutton says:


    Thanks for listening. Great coincidence that you made the connection to Anjan Chatterjee– I’ve already taped an interview with him for the January podcast! He’s doing really interesting work. Thanks again..


  4. Sam says:

    Hey Noah
    As far as I know there’s no way a brain creates new neurons in a lifetime. However when we learn something there’s a process called synaptic plasticity going on which means that there’s a constant growth and differentiation of synapses and dentrites within the brain. Neurogenesis in terms of a formation of new brain cells is a myth I guess. But please correct me on that.

  5. Noah Hutton says:

    Thanks for listening. Adult neurogenesis is very real– one of the most active populations of neural stem cells which differentiate into mature neurons is found in the hippocampus, and neurogenesis has been tied to new memory formation in many studies, including the one I reference in this podcast. Here’s the link to the article abstract I was talking about:
    You’re right about plasticity– that’s certainly the big piece of the memory puzzle… but it is possible to form new neurons in a lifetime– and if we’re lucky, it happens everyday.

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