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AHRC at the Cheltenham Science Festival: what science and the arts and humanities can gain from each other

Date: 03/06/2014

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) is hosting three events at this year's Cheltenham Science Festival, which runs from 3rd- 8th June. The events have been curated by AHRC Science in Culture Theme Leadership Fellow, Professor Barry C Smith, and focus on how the arts and humanities can inform as well as comment on scientific practice.

The three events, Beauty and the Brain, The Brain Stethoscope and Cocktails: More than just a pretty drink? will show how ideas from the arts and humanities are providing new ways of thinking about scientific questions.

Professor Smith commented These 3 events show the way in which Science, the Arts and Humanities can work together to cast real light on the nature of our experiences from the extraordinary to the everyday.

Beauty and the Brain, Wednesday 4th June

Beauty, a topic which has long been studied by art historians and philosophers, is now of increasing interest to neuroscientists. Beauty and the Brain will be a panel discussion between three academics working at the boundary of neuroscience and the arts- neurobiologist Semir Zeki, psychologist Chris McManus and philosopher Ophelia Deroy. They will each present their own research findings, and then discuss common themes- primarily the principles guiding aesthetic preferences and the influence of different cultures. Ophelia Deroy is co-investigator of AHRC Science in Culture Theme Large Grant, Rethinking the Senses: Uniting the Neuroscience and Philosophy of Perception.

The Brain Stethoscope, Saturday 7th June

Neurologist Josef Parvizi from Stanford University will be talking about his project, The Brain Stethoscope. Inspired by the Kronos Quartet's Music of the Spheres, Parvizi worked with musician Chris Chafe to convert brain activity into music, and used this to differentiate normal brain activity from seizures. This research could be used to predict seizures in the future- an example of the arts directly informing science.

Cocktails: More than just a pretty drink? Saturday 7th June

The last event in the programme will feature Professor Smith's own research with Professor Charles Spence from the University of Oxford. They will delve into the psychology and philosophy of flavour, uncovering the chemistry, neuroscience and psychology of creating cocktails.

Further information and tickets for these events are available on the Cheltenham Festival website.

Notes to editors

  • For further information from the AHRC, please contact Danielle Moore-Chick on 01793 41 6021 or d.moore-chick@ahrc.ac.uk
  • The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. www.ahrc.ac.uk
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