Research program

Ecke Gallery – Research program

“The difference between art and science is not that between feeling and fact, intuition and inference, delight and deliberation, synthesis and analysis, sensation and cerebration, concreteness and abstraction, passion and action, mediacy and immediacy, or truth and beauty, but rather a difference in domination of certain specific characteristics of symbols” (Goodman 1976, 264).

-Art and Neuroscience: A evolutionary approach to art.


-The main contributions.
-A Semiotic approach.
-The historical role of symbolic language.


Neuroscience has developed quite rapidly over the last 20 years. New tools and technologies have been invented. With fMRI, we can measure neural activity in the brain and with Positron Emission Tomography (PET) we can produce a three-dimensional image of processes occurring in the brain. These methods have been applied to conduct research on visual perception; art followed close behind.

This research-project starts with a historical point of view: a short presentation of the main contributors in the field of Art and Neuroscience:  Semir Zeki, Vilayanur Ramachandran for Neuroesthetics and Jean-Pierre Changeux and Antonio Damasio for an evolutionary approach to art and neuroscience.

These 2 approaches have in common interdisciplinarity:  psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology , art history, cognitive linguistic and philosophy  are called upon to contribute.
It  will permit a new kind of  analysis of art language and to  formulate hypothesis related to the  function of art  ( utility) in human cultural development. This part of the research has the ambitious goal to use a common language for theories of art and scientific approach. 
This first description stand as theoretical and scientific frame to the subsequent 2 detailed proposals:

1) A  semiotic/cognitive lecture of piece of art.

2) The analysis of the  historical role of symbolic language and a proposition for specific .

Then we´ll introduce a    complementary approach describing potentials researches focus on “symbolic language “as fundamental component of historical artistic production. Neuronal correlated system for object recognition ( ref. here)  and the relationship that those biological supports can have with the spontaneous creation and production of symbolic images represent one possible direction to start a empirically verification.

The theoretical frame:
the  evolutionary approach to art &  the neuroesthetics contribution.

Neuroscience already started to give empirical data that  furnish new prospective for a integrated  theory of art. This integration  will permit more and more to have a profitable exchange between the two research fields.

If enthusiasm for neuroscience research in this artistic field have to be improved, we can start to retrace the main contributors.
Conceptually that represent a cross over step that we hope can give his own contribution to better understand art and others complex cultural process.

One of the most interesting approach to art have been furnish by the French neurobiologist JP Changeaux.
His contribution has the originality to be based by strong evolutionary data. This evolutionary prospective ( genetic and epigenetic) frame art as  a human cultural phenomena that have to respond to some “ a priory” features  that have to be compatible with natural selection and genetic development.

Changeux´s  first furnish  basic concept related on art :

1. Work of art is an artefacts: a  human production specialized for intersubjective communication that use “symbolic forms” genetically and epigenetically encoded.
 2.  Art is distinct from language. It is a  non verbal communication of emotional state, knowledge, experience with multiplicity of codes yet, under implicit constraints of rules  ”regle de l art“.  3. This communication is by  aesthetic efficacy - staggering effects on emotion & reason mobilising conscious and non -conscious process - In different source Changeux give just a relative importance to the aesthetic value- certainly to differentiated his theory from Neuroesthetics approach

4. Art in constant evolution = art history renewal yet without apparent progress. 
Conceptually this view of art history or art as phenomena is far away from the complexity of art language-

and for some part give just pictured a raw representation.

Changeux  start coherently to in-write   artistic language  in a biological set   based on  the genetical development of human brain –

This genetical development – especially from 2 million year ago until ours day –permit acquisition of knowledge and skills and in the last 10,000 year a spectacular cultural development.

 We can locate  the first piece of art around 30,000 year BC ( Chauvet caves)  - and around 300.00O the first human  act using  “symbolic language “.( homo heidelbergensis ) –

We have also add to this prospective   the development of human brain during the first 15 year of life-
In thit period we have a really big development of number of neural connection (ontogenetic)  and it is followed by selection of the connectivity (epigenetical) that “produce”  a adult brain.

Changeux describe, from evolutionary biology studies, the brain as the result of several nested evolutionary process.
So genetically and epigenetically development concur and are the bases for (also) art development.
This genetically envelope  permit the emergence of consciousness and also art.

In this prospective we can name art as  external brain memories. A support to stock information.
Also Changeux furnish a more classical approach to art and visual cortex, and art and all the brain area that concur during visual perception – in this frame aesthetical value , can give an privilege access to limbic system, memories etc.

 This contribution doesn´t give a particular new point of view for art, already neuroesthetics point out these aspect.

A contribution that reveal possible origin and motif of art  come from one of the most famous and renamed neuroscientist : Antonio Damasio.

The main contributions from Damasio retrace the role that art could have play in the early moment of cultural development that justify his own transmition and evolution. Those roles have to be useful to concur and to maintain Homeostasis – a fundamental physical state essential to life, reproduction, social life etc. (ménage life)

Damasio´s evolutionary origins of art & aesthetics are:

Sexual selection ( Darwin)
Group selection ( Kropotkin )
Intersubjective communication & social bonding ( Changeaux)
By-product of brain evolution ( James)

Using this theoretical frame,  he  reports hypothetical origins  and motive of art:  this part of his approach represents the main contribution for  this field.

In cultural evolution art was successful because it help  life regulation  :

1)    It cement social groups ( social bonding)
2)    Recorded and transmit cultural and social value
3)    Improved communication
4)    Transmit emotional information –
5)    Explored other people minds- empathy

In other way Value of communication - intelligence utilisation of communication -

More in modern period art become particular performative  for

– Information transaction
– Description of emotions
– Psychological exploration
- Compensate emotional imbalance
– Social culture record -
And by the way It could elevate us to spiritual dimension -

Art is improved by biology.*
*Evolutionary Origins of art and aesthetics/ CARTA

Precedent to this approach, and historically older, the neuroesthetic proposed the first connection between art and neuroscience-

Neuroesthetics (or neuroaesthetics) is a relatively recent discipline that approaches the study of aesthetic perception scientifically. Neuroesthetics pioneer Semir Zeki, who directs the Institute of Neuroesthetics at University  College London is responsible for the naming of the subject. In previous centuries, writers and philosophers have tried to grasp the intimate essence of an aesthetic experience and define the concept of beauty. Names such as Plato, Immanuel Kant and art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann come to mind. These important figures of Western thought never had the opportunity to directly see what happens in our brain when, for example, we are in front of a work of art. Today, it is possible to do this. Indeed, neuroesthetics uses the techniques of neuroscience in order to explain and understand the aesthetic experiences at a neurological level. For example, functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) has permitted visualizations of brain activity in vivo while we carry out actions, thoughts or emotions. Together with other techniques, the fMRI has  allowed the study of activation patterns in different areas of the brain, revealing that each of the cerebral structures is specialized for one or more specific tasks, like the elaboration of sensorial stimuli visual, tactile, auditory, etc.), the planning and execution of motor processes, or the perception of determined emotional stimuli. Yet, despite these developments, scientists are still working hard to reveal the most arcane and untouched secrets that philosophers and scientists have been debating for millennia: the mysteries of the human mind. See link

Definition: Neuroesthetics is an attempt to combine neurological research with aesthetics by  investigating the experience of beauty and appreciation of art on the level of brain functions and mental states. The recently developed field seeks the neural correlates of artistic judgment and artistic creation.
It combines principles from perceptual psychology, evolutionary biology, neurological deficits and functional brain anatomy in order to address the evolutionary meaning of beauty that may be the essence of art.
Semir Zeki and Vilayanur Subramanian “Rama” Ramachandran have made the most important contributions to this field.

Semir Zeki is a professor of neuroesthetics at University College London. His main interest is the organization of the primate visual brain.
Semir Zeki is a professor of neuroesthetics at University College London. His main interest is the organization of the primate visual brain.
He published his first scientific paper in 1967. Since then he has written over 150 papers and four books: Splendours and Miseries of the
Brain (2008), A Vision of the Brain (1993), Inner Vision: an exploration of art and the brain (1999).

“...the artist is in a sense, a neuroscientist, exploring the potentials and capacities of the brain, though with different tools. How such creations can arouse aesthetic experiences can only be fully understood in neural terms. Such an understanding is now well within our reach. Important concept: Art as acquisition and transmission of Knowledge.” (Zeki)

 Leonardo d a Vinci, Madonna Litta
c. 1490-91 (150 Kb); Tempera on canvas, transferred
from panel, 42 x 33 cm (16 1/2 x 13 in); Hermitage, St.

Semir Zeki points out the problem of  how to approach art or more precisely aesthetic experience, taking inspiration from Helmholtz sentence in 1871: “We must look upon artists as persons whose observation of sensuous impressions is particularly vivid and accurate, and whose memory for these images is particularly true. That which long tradition has handed down to the men most gifted in this respect, and that which they have found by innumerable experiments in the most varied directions, as regards means and methods of representation, forms a series of important and significant facts, which the physiologist, who has here to learn from the artist, cannot afford to neglect. The study of works of art will throw great light on the question as to which elements and relations of our visual impressions are most predominant in determining our conception of what is seen, and what others are of less importance. As far as lies within his power, the artist will seek to foster the former at the cost of the latter.”
Artists are researchers who work instinctively and find a principle vision to transmit different contents through beauty. Beauty is an evolutionary visual signal used to express value.

A brief example: Leonardo da Vinci reported that he had found the association between complementary colours and building plastic content by soft “velature” from dark to light colours resulting in an aesthetically, more pleasant and efficient way of presenting the human body, face, texture etc. These elements are preceded by the visual cortex as separate elements and fundamental parts of the perception process.
In Mondrian’s painting, the vertical and horizontal lines are a description of how the visual cortex (V1 in this case) contributed to building the representation of the physical external perception through modal analysis of the basic constitutive element of an object.

Piet Mondrian, Rhythm of Black Lines
c. 1935/42 Oil on canvas. 72.2 x 69.5 cm. Kunstsammlung
Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf

More recently (In Splendours and Miseries of the Brain. 2008)  Zeki proposed  to integrate at his own theories the concept of ambiguity into this system. The esthetical feeling in a masterpiece is also created by a sense of “incertitude” and possibly multiple interpretations. Taking the Vermeer painting “Girl reading a Letter” as an example, we can see a scene where the interpretation of what happened is uncertain. A familiar atmosphere can also contribute to brain activity creating different and random parallel feelings.
The bibliography refers to detailed documentation about Seki theories.

Vilayanur Subramanian “Rama” Ramachandran, born 1951, is a neuroscientist known for his work in the fields of behavioral neurology and visual psychophysics. He is the Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, and is currently a Professor in the Department of Psychology and the eurosciences Graduate Program at the University of California, San Diego.

“The purpose of art, surely, is not merely to depict or represent reality— for that can be accomplished very easily with a camera—but to enhance, transcend, or indeed even to distort reality . . .” (Ramachandran)
“What the artist tries to do, either consciously or unconsciously, is to not only capture the essence of something but also to amplify it in order to more powerfully activate the same neural mechanisms that would be activated by the original object.” (Ramachandran)

Johannes Vermeer, Girl reading a Letter
c.1663, 46.5 x 39 cm, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam,

He set up ten universal laws of aesthetic value. Ramachandran’s 10 universal laws of art 

Peak shift
Perception problem solving
Abhorrence of coincidence/generic
Repetition, rhythm and orderliness

Here we ll describe only three principles  of those inspired by biological evolution and visual cortex complexity. Some of the principle description is taken directly from a transcript of Ramachandran’s conferences or videos and from

The concept of peak shift: first demonstrated using pigeons, the peak shift effect occurs when an animal is rewarded for responding to a particular stimulus (S+ stimulus, for positive stimulus), and not rewarded for responding to another (S- for negative stimulus). After the training phase, the animal is
tested with a range of stimuli to test for generalization. The animal will, of course, respond to S+, and not respond to S-, but surprisingly, the animal will respond the most to stimuli that are further from S- on the scales in which S+ and S- differ. In the Indian sculpture pictured here, this principle is applied by the artist as a caricature and amplifies the difference between the male and female body. The result is a beautifully distorted version of the body represented. This principle can be applied to other  contexts.
You will find references in the Ramachandran bibliography.

Perception problem solving: a puzzle picture (or one in which meaning is implied rather than explicit) may paradoxically be more alluring than one in which the message is obvious. There appears to be an element of ‘peekaboo’ in some types of art – thereby ensuring that the visual system  truggles
for a solution and does not give up too easily. This may explain the appeal of much of Picasso’s work, or the work of the surrealists (e.g. the Duchamp painting, pictured here), in which the meaning or form is often elusive, forcing us to search for it. The search itself is rewarding, thus part of what producing the aesthetic experience we get from such art.

Abhorrence of coincidence/generic
viewpoint: The human visual system is a Bayesian deduction machine.There are Bayesian models of virtually every aspect of lower and higher-level visions (Proven using the keywords “Bayesian” and “Vision” in any article database). This means, amongst other things; that out of all of the possible
interpretations of a particular visual input, the visual system will pick the most likely. This has two implications, which Ramachandran uses to formulate another principle of art: we prefer generic viewpoints and we abhor coincidence. To understand part one - the preference for generic viewpoints,
one must consider the following two figures from RH: Functional Neuroimaging studies using PET and fMRI demonstrate significant differences between the brains of synesthetes and non-synesthetes.
fMRI shows V4 activation in both word - colour and grapheme – colour synesthetes. The study on synaesthesia is another research field where Ramachandran tried to give new correlations between
art and neuroscience. Ramachadran’s research group identified neural basis explanations for these phenomena, especially in the connection between V4 (the brain area that codifies colors information) and in another part of the fusiform gyrus (the area that processes visual information related to letter and reading). Functional Neuroimaging studies using PET and fMRI demonstrate significant  differences between the brains of synesthetes and non-synesthetes. FMRI shows V4 activation in both word color and grapheme color synesthetes. Refer to bibliography for an extended description of this point.

Marcel Duchamp, Nude Descending a Staircase, No.2,
1912Oil on canvas, 146 x 89cm, Philadelphia Museum
of Art: The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection,

Ramachandran indicates a neuron mirror as an up-and-coming term on this research

                                                       -----------------end theoretical frame -------------------------

Neuroscience and art: a approach through symbol.
A complementary research.

As we see,  all this different point of view furnish a new theoretical frame to approach art by neuroscience
( integrated with other discipline ) .
-This theoretical approach can be completed  with conceptual paradigm furnish by  neurophilosophy. -

Art is a phenomena intrinsically involve on human and brain evolution, and for this reason also deeply involved in the rules that led this evolution- Species selection and cultural evolution first. 

 Different aspect of evolutionary approach to art has been developed in different way.

Changeux- Genetic and Epigenetic neuronal approach. Relation to brain evolution and art production.

Damasio- Origin and motif of art.

Seki- Evolutionary approach to aesthetic experience. “Art as acquisition and transmition of Knowledge”

Ramachandran -   Biological evolution: visual cortex evolution  and the sense of beauty related to natural adaptation to external world-

The phenomenon art can be considered in a evolutionary point of view, as an external stock of knowledge; external to human brain.

Based on this prospective   the art work  had  a historically double role:
1)  Contents/ knowledge ´s Stock  & communication  -
2) Invent/innovation of  new ways/patterns  of communication  and stockage. ( and stock of this new patters) . In this sense art is also a  laboratory for communication.

This basic concepts  permits to define functional coherence through art history -
In this conception “beauty” (following evolutionary neuroesthetics approach ) have been  for  long period the indicator/ to underline  special high value- in art and common life.

We can propose at this point two concept that describe how “the piece of art “have been constituted in semiological way : The transporter and the transported.

The Transporter

It is developed constantly by multisensory  - communication  laboratory.
Have been for long time “build” in a physical support (traditionally, for visual art,  the painting or sculpture- that have to been intended as physical support –  )  and especially conceived  for this role.  Duchamp passed by.

This physical component of the piece of art contain in itself the patter of communication that have been
studied ( received)  or instinctively conceived by artists. This patters of communication interface human sensory system to produce cognitive process/ brain activity that accomplish- in part -  the transmition process ) –
Patters of communication are the core value of art.

Ex.  Expressionism
Ex conceptual art.

It  also about communicate how to communicate/stock  “something”. The transporter ( or  physical support) don’t have any meaning in itself without interfacing with cognitive process-

This something is  The Transported

Knowledge stock (until XIX century). Or CONTENTS /
The traditional art contents conveyed by piece of art:

 1) Religious, philosophical, transcendental, mythological contents
 (who create world, human and how, etc...)

 2) Social  structure and common life.
(Who is who?) + (How to do stuff)

 3) Power celebration: king, pharaoh, who win etc..
(Who rules and ruled and how)
Visual  or multisensory sense support/medium: Painting , sculpture,  theatre ,  music, dance,  photography, Video, Performance ,  Installation , Multimedia.etc.( Goodman definition for allographic and autographic arts- )

In the middle of XIX cen. art started to explore the “transporter” possibilities losing interest for  traditional contents. The traditional mediums was multiply following the possibility of human perception and cognition. Art start to focus basically on his own communication potentiality values, developing ways and possibility of communication without need a particular subject.

Those content respond to Damasio´s origin and motive of art.

Art through experimentation and research invent new way of transmition, tools and new languages. History of art retrace all this new way of transmition/communication.

New ways / better way or if possible both.  Creating and transmitting new conceptual structure for communication patters.

Efficacity –

Innovation and quality

Follow this schema and this point of view we have concentrated the research on a particular aspect of the “transported” elements.

-Can neuroscience help to better understand what art is? –
Studies on - traditional CONTENT of art – behind the symbolic language.
 Thought this approach we try to concentrate investigation efforts in an historical and evolutionary point of view to art. Contemporary art is an extremely moving phenomena, studying some precise aspect of artistic language production,   at least until the  XIX century, seem to us a solution to avoid dispersive strategies. This particular approach has been selected to be an alternative and complementary direction on art and neuroscience researches.
The selection has been made on the purpose to be empirically addressed and tested.  Curators, art critics, theorist of art and artists can give a fundamental contribution.

The Jung s Symbolic language  as bridge between mind and brain- ( Jungian institute )- to integrate with experiment based by symbolic language-Jungian Symbols: a possible bridge –

-“…I would like to return briefly to the significance of dreams. Most analysts would agree that dreams have their origin in the biology of the brain. Jung described dreams as a ‘Naturereignis’, an occurrence of nature (CW 8, §560). Their drama includes so-called hard-wired, genetically determined personality traits as well as conscious and unconscious past experience. Jean Knox calls it the Internal Working Model, following the concept of Attachment Theory. Dreams can be seen as products of the metabolism of the psyche. As such they can be analysed and interpreted in a similar way as physicians analyse other results of physical activities in the human body in order to gain information as to the functioning of the individual. Next to transference analysis dreams seem to me extremely important in exploring a person’s psychological makeup and functioning. It is a short step from this to Jung’s understanding of the Self as the centre of the personality, comprising conscious and unconscious contents. Jung understood the psyche as a self-regulatory system. In his theory of opposites he saw the Self in the centre, sending out compensatory signals when one-sidedness was threatening the wellbeing of the individual. Interestingly, the same idea appears in Damasio’s writings. He talks about the homeostasis of feelings, which governs our behaviour, including our ethical, social and spiritual lives. It is important to recognise in this context that according to Damasio, feelings are often unconscious. Jung’s concept of the self is certainly wider, but the common idea of a self-regulatory psyche bears enough resemblance to start a dialogue.
I am very concerned that analytical psychology should be perceived as being alienated from modern science. I hope that I have been able to demonstrate that there are indeed points of contact. Jungian ideas are in many ways closer to the findings of modern science than are psychoanalytic models and yet, our Freudian colleagues appear to be leading the field in trying to update psychoanalytic views in the light of neuroscience. In particular, I am thinking of the Society of Neuro- Psychoanalysis, whose annual conference starts in Rome today. I think we Jungians must make an effort not to be left behind. Perhaps we should study equally on chemistry as we do on alchemy. Maybe neuroanatomy and neurophysiology should be given a place in the training curricula. It could be that the focus of attention should shift from Jung as the person to a re-evaluation of his concepts. It appears to me that Sonu Shamdasani’s book Jung and the Making of Modern Psychology has prepared the ground for this process.”
Arthur Niesser 2004. Neuroscience and Jung’s Model of the Psyche: A Close Fit.  From Association of Jungian Analysts, in London.
Religious, philosophical, transcendental, mythological contents: Those elements represent one of the most important art content at least until XIX Cen. Those content have been transported by art.
The particularity of those elements is that are all “transmitted “basically by symbolic language (Changeux).

Def: Symbol-

This deep relationship between art and spirituality or transcendental conceptions broke up with Illuminism and in almost definitive way in  XIX century.  For this hypothesis we ´d like to remind C.G. Jung’s works on symbol language related with consciousness aspects.

Our definition of symbol follows strictly the C.G.J ung  point of view.

With this decision we want focus on a particular aspect of symbolic language as : spontaneous, biological and instinctive production of unconscious mechanisms in the brain.

I remind that we are trying to concentrate the research efforts on topics where neurosciences can work in an empirical way, that ´s to say where can be possible set it up experiments.

This decoding system ( symbolic language )  is important here because it represent a key-step between neural activity and a fundamental component of artistic language, at least until the XIX century but also in contemporary art.

Dreams, hallucination, mystic experiences, vision etc.  are all  “source“ phenomena that are the origins for religious iconography, shamanic rituals, mystic and philosophical representations. All this content have been conveyed by art through symbols.
Neuroscience has finally tools that are able to contribute to a verification of this kind of hypothesis of a meaningful decoding system.

The research organization includes a vast number of collaboration between different researchers that work in different fields. Collaborations and meetings with psychoanalysts, neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists, and philosophers are essential in this case.

One possible direction to start to empirically verification part of those hypotheses is the neuronal correlated system for object recognition and the relationship that those biological supports can have with the spontaneous creation and production of symbolic images.

This decoding system is important here because it represent a key step between neural activity and a fundamental component of artistic language, at least until the XIX century but also in contemporary art.

Purpose and method

Part 1: - can neuroscience help to better understand what art is? 

Promote the experimental exploration of the possible relationship between:

 out-side world > decoding system ( on the brain) > consciousness

 and unconscious> decoding system > consciousness. 

In this scheme, fundamental is the question of the self but also the language: how information are transmitted and processed between different areas and structures on the brain. It is evident that between all the steps a decoding system capable of making contents intelligible to consciousness is necessary,  both for outside world signal to brain internal signal.

Our guess basic research includes the hypothesis of a  decoding system that is used for both the contents (outside body stimulus and unconscious process).

Consciousness is the third element in this research – represent, as hypothesis, a common term between art and neuroscience. Consciousness is a phenomenon that permits to develop mental skills that permitted science, art and culture. In a psychological and evolutionistic point of view it is a fundamental step for humanity. ( DAMASIO homeostasis – origin and motif of art)

 How does nature protect and transmit this skill? 

 Art represented maybe also a  tools ( between other) to transmit content and process necessary to build a  conscious mind.

The  hypothesis that we want to improve is that by iconographic system and metaphysic/ spiritual representation  (at least until the XIX Century), art had the function to transmit  (essentially with symbolic language)  process, relation, mechanism, rituals  that  permit the  emergence of consciousness.

This communication system is based on the spiritual /metaphysic conception and contributed to a more complex system that include rites (repetitive act), contemplation (observation with spiritual feeling  and emotion), reproduction (observation and reproduction of “holy” images) .

The sources of this first relationship between art and spirituality are traditionally visions, dreams, mystical revelations, but also automatic writing, introspection, meditation, etc – is not useful here to describe the fundamental role that mystics, prophets, wizards, scribes, monks had on emergence of religion and mystical -philosophical system – more important is to point out the role that  art assumed to transmit and communicated this systems. All these sources are based in a decoding system between unconscious activity and subjective consciousness. Consciousness interprets the function and importance of this spontaneous perception in a second moment. Neuroscience can potentially deeply study this decoding mechanism, and recognize brain anatomical-functional structures  related to it.

Neuroscience can describe  how brains produce symbolic images. Neuroscience potentially can also describe and study  the brain “acting” during consciousness process and describe  how this mechanisms works – seems be the same function that art had played in the last 20000 year by symbolic language and spiritual / metaphysics conceptions.
This ambitious hypothesis leads our research.

According to Stephen Kosslyn and Oliver Sachs theories in mental visualization -  A. Damasio, C. Koch and Baars ‘s neuroscience research results in consciousness and perception-  and also Seki and Ramachandran  studies in neuroesthetics -  and considering C.G. Jung’s comparative research in historical  consciousness representation,  in order to propose  correlated neural base activity for the emergence  of spontaneous symbolic images language  -      we ‘ll  propose  a comparative research study   to give a multidisciplinary approach to better interpretation about     how brain produces mental images related to unconscious activity.  Especially during dreams, hallucinations and creative processes.

Dreams, hallucinations, active imagination are the main symbolic language source. 
 This process gives a hypothetical new approach to research about art and neuroscience.
The decoding process for object recognition   is based  schematically on

 Biederman -1987,  Marr- 1982,  Schreuder 1989. For neural correlate model: Felleman, van Essen (1991) then  C. Koch -2004.:

 Visual imput  > 

Structural associations (Geon) >

Functional associations (semantic level) > conceptual structures

Lexical associations.*

Because these mechanisms for object recognition are relatively well known, we propose a research hypotheses regarding the decoding system active during spontaneous  inner symbolic images perception  like in dreams,  surreal images, hallucinations etc. and supposedly a comparative study for iconographic images, the artistic language, and ritualistic patters; basically for all the topics that have their origins in the schema-direction:

unconscious > decoding system > consciousness.

In this research dossier we‘ll propose also a consciousness model based on Baars/ Changeaux , Damasio and Koch hypothesis.

For semantic studies a particular reference is the work of Ray Jackendoff.

The role of Consciousness.

Def. Consciousness-

This research will  suggest also a  model where  subjective consciousness can receive information/images from two different sources that define his their own position: the inputs and signals directly related to the “external body” world and the content coming from the unconscious. The out of body signals are filtered through the senses and through the corresponding neuronal configurations, then this signal becomes intelligible to consciousness.
A comparison between the different theories of consciousness will show the possible associations of the two different studies.
 This integrated model will  allow to study structures of consciousness from two sides: a comparative/psychological way and a neurobiological/cognitive way.  The biological physical approach stays as scientifically based reference in this research but we can start to approach the different consciousness phenomenology using also  data from psychoanalytic model of consciousness,  as hypothesis.

Baars (1997) suggests that the global workspace "is closely related to conscious experience, though not identical to it." Conscious events may involve more necessary conditions, such as interacting with a "self" system, and executive interpreter in the brain, such as has been suggested by a number of authors including Michael S. Gazzaniga.
In agreement with Baars’s theory of global space (GWT), view Changeux and Dehaene's interpretation we assume a neural network  activated selectively into a action space where  consciousness can investigate and act on one's awareness and  “experience”  several  psychic contents. It also suggested an area in which access is allowed to consciousness only in certain circumstances and psychological conditions (deep relax, self hypnosis, introspection, etc ;) which corresponds in part with the psychological concept of sub consciousness.

Consistent with the hypothesis of Damasio‘s identification of components of consciousness, we can assume that consciousness has its basis in the body-object relationship (external or psychological) and the changes it entails. Those modifications are structured in different modulated layers where the subject represents himself during the act to knowledge. Damasio states the existence of a core consciousness   and a extended consciousness that includes self-consciousness.

“... consciousness is not a monolith, at least not in humans: it can be separated into simple and complex kinds, and the neurological evidence makes the separation transparent. The simplest kind, which I call core consciousness, provides the organism with a sense of self about one moment - now - and about one place - here. The scope of core consciousness is the here and now. Core consciousness does not illuminate the future, and the only past it vaguely lets us glimpse is that which occurred in the instant just before. There is no elsewhere, there is no before, there is no after. On the other hand, the complex kind of consciousness, which I call extended consciousness and of which there are many levels and grades, provides the organism with an elaborate sense of self - an identity and a person, you or me, no less - and places that person at a point in individual historical time, richly aware of the lived past and of the anticipated future and keenly cognizant of the world beside it.”

These two cases provide one in describe a  ”mental space” in which consciousness can explore  (Baars – Changeaux ), the second one (Damasio) describes the  constituent elements of consciousness itself and suggests the manner in which  subjectively self relates to psychic contents. Both of these two views provide a partial identification of the neurobiological basis. In order to complete the vision of the different approaches to the problem of consciousness, we can integrate these two visions-schemata with a description of the NCC (neural consciousness correlate) by  Cristof Koch.  Koch's definition of consciousness is fundamentally different from Damasio and Baars but not incompatible; Koch provides a definition of perceptual consciousness, limiting the scope of his research on this type of investigation. Eschewing the game of definitions and by giving to each theory an area of investigation is possible an efficient and effective integration of different systems.
In this moment we set up precise empirical experiment (  with Positron emission tomography (PET) and Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)) , to propose  research on symbolic language relate to spontaneous unconscious activity and how brain perceive and react to symbolic element perception.

I remind that all this hypothesis research obey to an organization based on multiple collaborations and sharing of knowledge. It doesn´t traduce personal point of view, especially regarding researcher and artists participating to the group meeting.