Brain Awareness Week: University of Milan hosts a debate on art and brain with “Cervellamente 2017”
Within the global initiatives “Brain Awareness Week 2017”, the University of Milan decided to dedicate the annual event to the relationship between art and brain. “Cervellamente 2017 – Arte e Cervello” is a cycle of seminars addressed especially to young people, which will take place at the University Aula Magna from 6 to 10 February.
The brain awareness week is an event focused on the great achievements in Neuroscience obtained over the last twenty years thanks to new neuroimaging and genetic engineering techniques which allow to study, in molecular detail, the mechanisms through which neurons communicate between themselves, maintain souvenirs and create new ideas.
“Beauty is gratifying – explained the organizers – but beauty can even help relieve serious diseases of the nervous system; from Kant onwards, we have been asking ourselves what is beauty and today neuroscience is trying to ask, through its own investigational methods, questions on which great thinkers have debated for centuries: modern neuroscience tries to explain what is beauty, in which way the sense of aesthetics belongs to humanity and why beauty and art affect our behaviour. However, beauty is not universal: for example, the human evolutionary history has resulted in a different sense of aesthetics in males and females”.
“Is there – the researchers asked – a beauty therapy? Can we use aesthetics to heal? Does disease affect our ability to think? These topics will be discussed, showing that the acquired knowledge has not only contributed to solve philosophical dilemmas but has suggested a new way to cure psychic and neurological diseases”. In Milan, international experts will try to ask these questions, presenting new learnings about brain mechanisms of beauty perception, and discussing the possibility that our brain shapes when we look at a work of art or a natural beauty.
Diego Fornasari, researcher of CEND and chairman of the master’s degree in medical biotechnologies and molecular medicine, will talk about brain drug addiction and the influence that they can have on artistic productions. Fabio Babiloni, Scientific Director of Brainsings, a spin-off of the Sapienza University of Rome, will show that it is possible to measure reactions occurring in the brain when we contemplate a work of art. Luca Ticini, President of the Italian Society of Neuroaesthetics "Semir Zeki", starting from the principles of this new discipline that uses neuroscience to explain and understand the aesthetic experience at neuronal level, will explain why we like what we like.
Giorgio Vallortigara, Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Trento, and Alessandra Colciago from the University of Milan, will talk about the perception of beauty in animals and men. Rosa Maria Moresco, head of the PET (positron emission tomography – Editor’s note) laboratory of the University of Milano-Bicocca, will explain functional imaging and how this technique has affected our understanding of the organization of the brain and its functioning in response to different stimuli.
The link between art and diseases related to mood disorders will be discussed by Raffaella Molteni, in a seminar on how artistic contemplation can affect these disorders, and Daniela Tardito in a talk about how these disorders can influence artistic production. The fundamental mechanisms underlying the functioning of the nervous system will be discussed by Fabrizio Gardoni, while Marta Altieri from the Sapienza University of Rome will talk about the genius of Leonardo Da Vinci. Margaret Rose and Elio Scarpini will discuss the representation of neurological and psychiatric diseases in Shakespeare’s work. Finally, Vittorio Gallese, University of Parma, among the “discoverers” of mirror neuros, will close the event with a seminar entitled “Arte e Cervello”.
Further information on how to participate in the initiative, which is free and addressed especially to young people, is available on the event website.