Past Program

Feb 21 - Feb 26, 2015 Session 547

The Neuroscience of Art: What are the Sources of Creativity and Innovation?


In recent years, there have been an increasing number of scientific investigations into art, exploring what actually happens in the brain during the creative process. Most of these collaborations have been based in neuroscience and psychological approaches to how art is perceived, produced and created, with music the main focus of studies carried out to date. These studies have yielded important new information that relates to a very basic fact of human biology: all behavior, even that as complex as creativity, can be linked to brain function. Building on this fundamental linkage, the neurobiology of art promises to yield exciting new insights as this research field evolves. Creative behavioral patterns are likely to be a critical component for developing the neurological capacity for innovation.

This Salzburg Global program represents a pioneering step to establish a neutral international forum to discuss state-of-the-art findings from a cross-disciplinary perspective, prioritize future research, and expand creative opportunities for learning, innovation and collaboration. While much research is taking place in various national and regional settings, more global dialogue is needed between specialist silos in order to catalyze knowledge exchange around the results, implications and potential practical applications of new cutting-edge research. 

Post Session Fellow Collaborations

A year after the program took place in Salzburg, Session Fellow Harry Ballan helped collect all collaborations that emerged as a direct result of the Session and of the connections made between artists and neuroscientists in Schloss Leopoldskron. 

A list of both completed and in-progress collaborations can be found here:

List of Fellow Collaborations - collected by Harry Ballan

Session Participants

Anna Abraham
E. Paul Torrance Professor, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, United States
Bruce Adolphe
Resident Lecturer & Director of Family Concerts, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, New York; Composer-in-Residence, The Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California, Los Angeles; Piano Puzzler on Performance Today, American
Clayton Aldern
M.P.P. Candidate, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
Harry Ballan
Partner, Davis Polk & Wardell LLP; Director, Institute for Music and Neurologic Function, New York, New York, United States
Mathias Benedek
Professor, Institute for Psychology, University of Graz, Austria
Mark Boulos
Artist and Filmmaker, Amsterdam, The Netherlands & Geneva, Switzerland
Pieter Broucke
Pieter Broucke, Director of the Arts; Professorr of History of Art and Architecture, Middlebury college; Associate Curator of Ancient Art, Middlebury College Museum of Art, Middlebury, Vermont, United States
Suzanne Burgoyne
Director, Center for Applied Theatre and Drama Research, University of Missouri, United States
Julie Burstein
Author of "Spark: How Creativity Works" and host of Spark Talks at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York
María Fernanda Cardoso
Artist, Sydney, Australia
Lydia Courtney
Educator & Researcher, LC Voice Studios, Marriottsville Maryland, United States
Ian Cross
Professor of Music & Science, Fellow, Wolfson College, Cambridge University, United Kingdom
Jennifer Crouch
Artist, Founder, Teacher, Maker, London, United Kingdom
Arne Dietrich
Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon
Benjamin Ehrlich
Writer, The Beautiful Brain, New York, New York, United States
Benjamin Folds
Singer-Songwriter, Los Angeles, California, United States
Steven Fowler
Poet & Artist, London, United Kingdom
Sunil Gandhi
Assistant Professor of Neurobiology, University of California, Irvine, United States
Daniel Glaser
Director, Science Gallery, King's College, London, United Kingdom
Usha Goswami
Professor of Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience; Director, Centre for Neuroscience in Education, and Fellow, St. John's College, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Mariale Hardiman
Vice Dean, Academic Affairs; Professor of Education; Director, Neuro-Education Initiative, Johns Hopkins University School of Education, Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Noah Hutton
Filmmaker, New York, New York, United States
Kevin Kallaugher
Editorial Cartoonist for The Economist magazine of London and The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Rebecca Kamen
Artist / Professor Emeritus, Northern Virginia Community College, McLean, Virginia, United States
Richard Kemp
Author of Embodied Acting: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Performance; Professor, Head of Acting and Directing at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, United States
Kai Klepzig
Ph.D. Student, Department of Neuroradiology, Institute for Psychology, University of Greifswald, Germany
Ariane Koek
Director Science Gallery Venice, Founder & former Head of Arts at CERN, Consultant in Creativity & Transdisciplinarity, London, United Kingdom
Joan Koenig
Director, L'Ecole Koenig, Paris, France
Patricia Leavy
Author, Sociologist and Arts-Based Researcher, Kennebunk, Maine, United States
Felicia Lercari
Director, Music and the Brain. The 42nd Street Fund/ 42nd Street Development Corporation, New York, New Yor, United States
Soo-Siang Lim
Director, Science of Learning Centers Program, National Science Foundation, Washington, DC, United States
Siyuan Liu
Scientist, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland, United States
Manuela Macedonia
Neurolinguist, Institute for Information Engineering, University of Linz, Austria & Max Planck Institute for Human Brain Sciences Leipzig, Germany
Diego Malpede
Diego Malpede, Diplomat, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina, Buenos Aires
Malinda McPherson
M.Phil. Candidate, Centre for Music and Science, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Maira Monteiro Froes
Associate Professor and Research Director, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
James Murray-White
Filmmaker, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Nicola Neumann
Michael Oellinger
Research Scientist, Parmenides Center for the Study of Thinking, Pullach im Isartal, Germany
Nigel Osborne
Emeritus Professor of Music, University of Edinburgh; Co- Chair of the World Economic Forum on Culture, United Kingdom
Daria Parkhomenko
Founding Director/Curator, Laboratoria Art&Science Space, Moscow, Russia
Mike Pope
Bassist & Composer, Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Sophie Scott
Deputy Director, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, London, United Kingdom
Paul Sowden
Reader and Director of ILLUME: The Faculty Centre for Creativity Research, University of Surrey, Surrey, United Kingdom
Wendy Sternberg
Physician in Internal Medicine; Founder and Executive Director, Genesis at the Crossroads, Chicago, Illinois, United States
Aryeh Stollman
Writer & Assistant Clinical Professor Radiology, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, New York, United States
Pireeni Sundaralingam
Behavior Change Scientist and Poet, California, USA
Shodekeh Talifero
Beatboxer & Vocal Percussionist, Balitmore, Maryland, United States
Alina von Davier
Senior Research Director, Research & Development, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey, United States
Phillip Yao
M.Sc. Student, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
Jinghuan Zhang
Professor, School of Psychology, Shandong Normal University, Shandong, China


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The Neuroscience of Art - What are the Sources of Creativity and Innovation?

Session Videos

Session Photos

View full set on Flickr

Related Material

What Does a Creative Brain Look Like? (Charles Limb, NPR/TED Radio Hour, October 3, 2014)
Building the Musical Muscle (Charles Limb, TED Talk, filmed October 2011)
Your Brain on Improv (Charles Limb, TED Talk, filmed November 2010)
Art, Creativity and Learning (Christopher W. Tyler, Final Workshop Report, National Science Foundation, 2008)

Shodekeh & Classical Revolution Remix of Ben Folds' "The Luckiest"

What can science tell us about how pupils learn best? (Bodil Isaksen, March 23, 2013)

Shattering the Limits of Human Potential (Huffington Post, June 2013)

Arts and creativity 'squeezed out of schools' (BBC News, February 2015)

Session Podcasts