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5-8 September 2018
Brain Visions: Art, Geometry & Symbolism
Organized by Stanislas Dehaene, Phyllis Hattis, and Colin Blakemore

Following the success of Rethinking the Senses (2016), Centre L'Oubradou hosted its second colloquium in September 2018. The aim was to bring together cognitive scientists, neuroscientists, anthropologists, computer scientists, theoreticians, artists, art historians and prehistorians to exchange ideas and to speculate about the origins of geometry, art and symbolism. Rising scientists and artists were also invited as it is an essential aspect of the L’Oubradou Colloquia to encourage interdisciplinary dialogue between generations and to stimulate new empirical investigations.


The colloquium explored such questions as:


  • Why do humans share a sense of symmetry and geometry?
  • How have these concepts emerged in brain evolution?
  • Do we perceive geometrical shapes in a continuous, unlabelled world?
  • Why do these abstract shapes and the mathematical ideals appear beautiful?
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Stanislas Dehaene holds the Chair of Experimental Cognitive Psychology at Collège de France in Paris. He directs the INSERM-CEA Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit and the NeuroSpin Center (France's advanced neuroimaging research center), both located in Saclay, south of Paris. Professor Dehaene’s research investigates the neural bases of human cognitive functions such as reading, calculation and language, with a particular interest for the brain mechanisms of mathematics, their relationship to language networks, and the differences between conscious and non-conscious processing. The author of four popular books in cognitive neuroscience, Professor Dehaene is a member of six academies, including the US National Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy, and a recipient of the Grete Lundbeck Brain Prize, among other awards.


Dr. Phyllis Hattis, President and Founder of Centre L’Oubradou, is a Harvard educated art historian. She began her career in 1970 as a Ford Foundation Fellow joining the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco as a Visiting Curator. Her scholarly and critical writings include exhibition and collection catalogues as well as articles in art history journals, covering subjects ranging from Old Master drawings to Modern Art. Research has taken her to most of the major museums and private collections throughout Europe and America. Since 1986, Dr. Hattis has engaged in the art market, advising her clients when buying and selling works of art and applying her curatorial skills to build serious art collections, publish catalogues and provide documentation and appraisals for her clients. She has built a personal, substantial collection of Tribal and Modern art that extends to contemporary masters.

Her experience in the field has led her to ponder the cognitive mechanisms underlying the perception and creation of art.

Sir Colin Blakemore is professor of Neuroscience and Philosophy in the School of Advanced Study, University of London and Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience, Oxford University. He was head of the UK Medical Research Council from 2003-07.  He works mainly on the organization and development of the visual system and his studies have been instrumental in establishing the extent and role of brain plasticity in the developing brain. He is a member of twelve academies, including the Royal Society, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering. He has a long-standing interest in the visual arts and has worked with such figures as Ernst Gombrich, Richard Gregory, Martin Kemp, Patrick Hughes and David Hockney.



Centre L'Oubradou is proud to co-sponsor this workshop with its distinguished participants and supporters.


Copyright 2019 Centre L'Oubradou, All rights reserved.

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