Visiting Faculty, Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar
Dr Leslee Lazar is a cognitive neuroscientist and a visual artist. His research interests are in the neuroscience of creativity and aesthetics. His art practice involves collages, photomontage and woodcut printmaking techniques to explore topics that are at the intersection of art, science and culture. Dr Lazar completed his PhD in Neurosciences at National Brain Research Centre, India, where he researched how the brain processes touch information and how it changes because of injuries. He followed it with a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School.
Currently, he teaches at Center for Cognitive and Brain Sciences at Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar. Apart from his teaching and research, he is passionate about building scientific temper in society and has experience teaching cognitive science and neuroscience at leading design schools in India.
ABC – Art, Brain and Creativity
(presented in Panel Discussion 2: Knowledge and Making)
In recent years, there has been an increased interest to incorporate arts education into (science, technology, education and mathematics) STEM. This has led to the new moniker STEAM (science, technology, education, arts and mathematics) and a reevaluation of curriculum and pedagogy in educational institutes. This societal development also parallels the interest among brain scientists to discover how the brain produces creativity.
Arguably, humans are unique in their ability to create art and respond to aesthetic features of the world around us, but how we perform these complex thought processes are not well known. The issue is complicated further by a lack of concrete definition of what creativity is, or what is the strategy one uses to achieve it. There is also a range of interpersonal variation, as, one person’s creativity can be another person’s mundane activity.
My talk will address how artistic creativity and aesthetic perception is conceptualized in the psychological and neural term and explain how patterns of brain activity in brain networks give rise to creative processes. I will refer to two concepts to connect cognitive neuroscience and art practices; the idea that our brain is “plastic” as it changes according to training and environment. The second idea is of embodied cognition, which says that our cognitive processes, including creativity, are rooted in our bodily experience.