“Embodied Simulation and Aesthetic Experience” 
January 13th 2010 – Berlin School of Mind and Brain


The discovery of mirroring mechanisms in the human brain and the functional hypothesis modeling these mechanisms – embodied simulation- offer the opportunity to shed new light on the empathic reactions triggered in beholders by images, in general, and by visual art images, in particular. During this seminar I will challenge the cognitive primacy in our reactions to art. The hypothesis being proposed will be that a crucial element of aesthetic response consists of the activation of embodied mechanisms encompassing the simulation of actions, emotions, and corporeal sensation; and that these mechanisms are universal. This basic level of reaction to images is essential to understanding the effectiveness both of everyday images and of works of art. Historical, cultural and other contextual factors do not preclude the importance of considering the neural processes that arise in the empathic understanding of visual artworks.

–Vittorio Gallese is Full Professor of Human Physiology at the University of Parma, Italy.

Curated by Elena Agudio