This past week the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm have gathered the world’s foremost neuroscientists for a riveting symposium on the neurological bases of disease, art, emotion and consciousness. the name of the symposium is very non-Cartesian, anti-dualistic: The Enlightened Brain - Evolution and Development of the Human Brain.
Semir Zeki, Hugo Lagercrantz, Eric Kandel, Morten Kringelbach, Tania Singer, Torkel Klingberg and Jean-Pierre Changeux were some of the greats giving interesting lectures within their respective fields. I leave you wishing for more with an excerpt of Jean-Pierre Changeux lecture ”The Neuroscience of art”:
Any neurobiological hypothesis about artistic creation faces the combinatorial explosion of the 85 billion of neurons that compose the human brain. There is a need for rules that constrain and restrict in a top-down manner the selection of representations generated in the artist brain and which result in the personal style and quality of the work together with its efficient social communication and shared interpersonal recognition. These règles de l’art, hypothetically viewed as acquired patterns of connections, or scaffoldings, stored in long-term memory, include, among others: novelty, the coherence of the parts within the
whole (Alberti’s consensus partium), parsimony or the most frugal route of expression (Herbert Simon), the tension between bottom-up realism and top-down abstraction, the search for shared social recognition and the artist’s conception of the world (for instance the ”noble ideas” (belles idées) of Nicolas Poussin) (Changeux 2008).