Art on the brain?

Tuesday 29 October, 6.45pm until 8.30pm, International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Engine House, Chorlton Mill, Cambridge Street, Manchester M1 5BY UK Satellite Events 2013

In recent years, the arts have increasingly turned towards neuroscience to understand its purpose and value. From Jonah Lehrer’s controversial Proust was a Neuroscientist to Harry Witchel’s You Are What You Hear, there is a huge interest in the burgeoning field of neuroaesthetics. Yet some remain extremely sceptical both to the extent of what scientific findings actually reveal and, more broadly, science’s ability to explain art’s importance. Can brain scans ever really explain to us the beauty of a concerto or a sonnet? Does Mozart’s and Shakespeare’s power ultimately reside in their ability to touch the right neural buttons? Or are critics guilty of mystification and philistinism in refusing to countenance a biological underpinning to ‘the art instinct’? Can scientific research help us better separate good art from the bad? Is this another case of exaggerated ‘neuromania’ exaggerating its claims, or are there other reasons for why art has turned to science to validate itself?

Rhiannon Corcoran
professor of psychology and co-director, Health and Wellbeing, Heseltine Institute of Public Policy and Practice, University of Liverpool

Professor Philip Davis
director, Centre for Research into Reading, Information and Linguistic Systems, University of Liverpool

Dr George Szirtes
reader in creative writing, UEA; poet; editor; translator; author, The Burning of the Books and Other Poems

Professor Raymond Tallis
fellow, Academy of Medical Sciences; author, philosopher, critic and poet; recent books include NHS SOS and Aping Mankind; chair, Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying

David Bowden
associate fellow, Academy of Ideas; culture writer

Produced by
Simon Belt IT consultant; coordinator, Manchester Salon
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