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“Hidden Aesthetic Responses in the Brain” with Anjan Chatterjee

November 4, 2019 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

We are surrounded by people and places. Beyond communicating with people and navigating through places, we cannot help but evaluate them. In this talk, I will review basic conceptual underpinnings of neuroaesthetics, a relatively new field that examines the biological bases of aesthetic experiences. I will argue that our brains respond automatically to our aesthetic environment, by discussing recent results from my lab that focus on faces and architectural interiors. We have hidden brain and behavioral responses to facial beauty. These automatic responses have unfortunate consequences because of the promiscuity of our valuation systems, which links beauty and morality. Similarly, our brains respond to architectural interiors based on psychological construct of which we are not explicitly aware. These responses have implications for the relationship between the environment and our sense of wellbeing.

Bio: Anjan Chatterjee is the Frank A. and Gwladys H. Elliott Professor and Chair of Neurology at Pennsylvania Hospital and the founding director of the Penn Center for Neuroaesthetics. He is a member of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, and the Center for Neuroscience and Society at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his BA in Philosophy from Haverford College, MD from the University of Pennsylvania and completed his neurology residency at the University of Chicago.

His clinical practice focuses on patients with cognitive disorders. His research addresses questions about spatial cognition and language, attention, neuroethics, and neuroaesthetics. He wrote The Aesthetic Brain: How we evolved to desire beauty and enjoy art and co-edited: Neuroethics in Practice: Mind, medicine, and society, and The Roots of Cognitive Neuroscience: behavioral neurology and neuropsychology.

He is or has been on the editorial boards of: American Journal of Bioethics: Neuroscience, Behavioural Neurology, Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology, Neuropsychology, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, European Neurology, Empirical Studies of the Arts, The Open Ethics Journal and Policy Studies in Ethics, Law and Technology. He was awarded the Norman Geschwind Prize in Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology by the American Academy of Neurology and the Rudolph Arnheim Prize for contributions to Psychology and the Arts by the American Psychological Association. He is a founding member of the Board of Governors of the Neuroethics Society, the past President of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics, and the past President of the Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology Society. He has served on the boards of the Norris Square Neighborhood Project and the Associated services for the Blind and Visually Impaired. He currently serves on the Boards of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia and Haverford College.


November 4, 2019
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
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