20-23 september 2017. Pécs - Hungary
Satellite events
Edges of Neurosciences (Medical School, University of Pécs)
Edges of Neurosciences (Medical School, University of Pécs) 2017-09-19 - 09:00-21:00
Venue: Other Location
The symposium and workshop will be linked to and complemented with artworks (NEURART) created by established artists, arts students and scientists displayed at the surrounding of the conference site and in the corridors/hallways to draw attention of the public to the symposium and science.

Venue: Conference Room, Medical School, University of Pécs;
              Nana Restaurant, Király street 2, Pécs

The symposium focuses on three themes: aesthetics, creativity and communication all from the neuroscience perspective. This event is the inaugural meeting of the  first transdisciplinary institute in Europe, the Institute of Transdisciplinary Discoveries at University of Pécs.



Attila Sik 
University of Pécs, Univerity of Birmingham

Introduction (Attila Sik, Emil Toescu)

The launch of the Institute of Transdisciplinary Discoveries, University of Pecs


Session I: The Beauty and the Brain Chaired by Emil C. Toescu

To like or not to like: that is the question!
How dumping of pictures spread by internet affects visual taste
by Joe Petersburger (a.k.a. József L. Szentpéteri), University of Pecs, Hungary

Abstract: There are billions of pictures uploaded on the internet every day. By comparison, were very few photos were published online by private people until 2008. National Geographic, as one of the best-known picture distributor, has never published more than 10 stories/month with an average of 15-20 images/article. Many of them became iconic, known by many people worldwide, although none got the chance of getting some direct and instant feedback from the viewers, as is the case now through the social media platforms.
This proliferation of images through the internet offers a fantastic opportunity to analyze what people like in a photograph and why. At the same time, visual creation is facing a challenge like never before; is it possible anymore to create long-lasting artwork in such environment?
Some commentators suggest that increasing the stress and anxiety of people shifts the tastes of ordinary people towards kitsch; and through such influences and the potential for large feedback influences photographers output, its quality, where it is published and when.

9:30 - 9:55
Matter into Imagination: why neuroscientists, artists and philosophers need each other
by Susan Aldworth, artist with a practice influenced by neuroscience, UK

Abstract: What is the relationship between the materiality of the brain and the immateriality of thoughts and imagination, between the physical brain and our sense of self? What turns matter into imagination? These questions fascinate both artists and neuroscientists for various and maybe different reasons. In an age when cutting edge neurological scanning technologies lets us look into a living brain whilst it senses and thinks, these questions pose philosophical questions about what it means to be a human. Having collaborated with neuroscientists and clinicians, this talk will focus on my practice as a visual artist as I explore some of these questions.

10:00 - 10:25
Paying attention to beauty
by Paolo Bartolomeo, Brain and Spine Institute in the Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris, France

Abstract. Spatial attention allows us to explore our environment and determines the content of our visual perception. Attention processes do not result from activity in localized regions of the brain, but from the integrated functioning of large-scale fronto-parietal networks. In the human brain, these networks show hemispheric asymmetries favoring the right hemisphere (the one usually non-dominant for language). Spatial attention can be either automatically captured by salient stimuli, or voluntarily allocated to an object in space. It will be argued that both these attentional processes are essential for our appreciation of beauty, albeit in different ways.

10:30 - 10:55
How to turn Scientists into Artists and Artists into Scientists
by John Onians, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK

Abstract: No-one illustrates the benefits of such an exchange of roles better than Leonardo da Vinci. He was a better scientist than most scientists and a better artist than most artists, precisely because he was both. Disregarding the social conventions that encouraged a separation of roles, he followed his inner drive which told him that the core activity of both artists and scientists was looking. Looking, he had learned, both made him aware of new problems and suggested new ways to solve them. If we wish to rise to the same level as he in either art or science – or indeed art history - we have to match him in following our drives, being ready to see the whole history of human action in any domain as the record of a myriad experiments in which a particular animal species, Homo Sapiens, can be observed responding to constantly changing contexts. It is because the rules governing those responses are the rules embodied in our neural apparatus that neuroscience is the key to this enterprise.

11:00 - 11:25
Coffee break

11:25 - 11:30
Introduction for Rebecca Ivatts, London, UK, the artist exhibiting numerous neuroscience-influenced works in Pecs

11:30 - 12:15
Round table session Chaired by Emil C. Toescu

Lunch Break
(sandwiches and soft drinks are provided to all attendees)

14:00 - 17:00
Lightbulb moments in the brain (Neuroscience and Creativity)
Chaired by Prof. Attila Sik
Neuroscientist and Director of the soon to be established Institute of Transdisciplinary Discoveries, University of Pecs

Location: Conference Room - Medical School , University of Pécs

Admission is free, but seats are limited. Please register by clicking here.

The Creative Brain
by Anna Abraham, School of Social Sciences, Leeds Beckett University, UK

Abstract: For neuroscientists of creativity, the first step towards uncovering the brain basis of this incredible ability is to decide which empirical approach to adopt. The choices are vast. The dominant approach involves assessing creativity as a unitary and domain-general construct. Alternative approaches vary in their focus. Some take on a multidimensional view of creativity and evaluate the information processing mechanisms underlying different creative mental operations. Others focus on identifying the many factors that are critical in domain-specific creativity. This lecture explores how the chosen path of investigation necessarily impacts wider construals of creative brain function and why we need to be cognizant of the same.

The Outspoken Mind: Communication, language use and creativity as success factors
by Renáta H. Prikler University of Pecs, Hungary

Abstract: Creativity and communication – skills for the 21st century – both teach the individual how to think.

A few years ago I translated a book: The Millionaire Mind by Thomas J. Stanley (2000, Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing) into Hungarian (2001, A milliomos agy, Pécs: Alexandra). The book is about a special but significant segment of the US population: those, who have accumulated substantial wealth just in one generation. The key to their financial success, according to the author, must be looked for in the way their minds work, because it is what makes them significantly different from the other. Their other common trait is the fact that they are not afraid to communicate what they think, and, as it is a well-known fact, good communication skills are key to success in life, work and relationships. Without effective communication, a message can turn into error, misunderstanding, frustration, or even disaster by being misinterpreted or poorly delivered. Communication, at the same time, goes hand in hand with creative thinking. The ability to recognize problems¸ to rapidly produce a variety of ideas, to generate a list of words, each of which is associated with a given word, to organize words into larger units, to demonstrate flexibility, accompanied with openness, extraversion (Guilford, 1950, 1967; Digman 1990) can be the key to success in any segment of life.

Analyzing the case studies, exploring the ideas and beliefs presented in Stanley’s book, taking chaos/complexity theory (Larsen-Freeman, 1991) and the best narrative traditions (J. Bruner 1991, 2004) as a background, the present talk aims to underline the importance of creativity and communicative skills in individual success.

Coffee break

Neuroscientific approach to creativity
by Vida Demarin, International Institute for Brain Health, Zagreb, Croatia

Abstract: Researching the creativity and where it comes from, was, and still is, a challenge for many scientists, and today, by advances in neuroscientific investigations and noninvasive neuroimaging techniques we are getting more data in revealing its secret.
Creativity seems to be dependent on the interaction between networks rather then specific brain areas. The executive attention network, the default network and the salience network have their impact and the vital aspect of creativity is the ability to switch between them.
The results of electrophysiological research have demonstrated the implication of alpha waves in the creative process. Recent investigations showed that highly creative people have significantly more connections between the right and left hemispheres. Shedding the new light to the connection between intelligence and creativity is also everlasting process.
Analysing neurological illnesses and their link to changes in perception, imagination and creativity is a promising field to getting more data in future research, as we still are on the long way from completely understanding the mystery of creativity.

Instances of creativity to overcome grave misunderstanding when different cultures meet
By Andreas Hejj, University of Pecs, Hungary

Abstract: When different cultures meet it is usually the members of the other group that are considered rude because they do not behave in a way the first group would expect its own members to behave. Because the strangers’ behaviour is strange and not in accordance with local expectations, it cannot be prognosticated what they are up to, so the locals will grow reserved and suspicious with the strangers. Due to what social psychology terms a self-fulfilling prophesy, this mistrustful approach will elicit the worst possible side of the „other” culture, and that in turn will feed the vicious circle yet more momentum, and keep tension increasing. It is undoubted that tensions experienced more and more often in culturally and ethnically increasingly diverse societies of the 21st century pose a great responsibility to behavioural and educational science. The present study examines, how creativity can help avoid grave misunderstanding in various instances where different cultures meet. Based on these cases studies as well as a short history and an analysis of the characteristics of creativity it will be discussed how psychology can contribute to creativity research.

Andreas Hejj was schooled in Ghana and Nigeria, received his M.A., PhD and Habilitation in psychology at the University of Munich, where he taught full time for 14 years before he became full professor and head of department in Pécs. He was also visiting professor in several countries including South Tyrol and Ecuador. His areas of research are evolutionary psychology, beauty, attraction and communication 


Paintings by: Rebecca Ivatts

18:30 - 21:00
The spoken word on neuroscience – a round table debate with a Q&A session

Participants: Corina Negrea, Radio Romania Cultural (Science section); László Zsiros, radio and podcast host from Hungary, Ginny Smith, science writer & presenter (worked with the Naked Scientists, science radio show), and David Marcal, author and science communicator from Lisbon, Portugal. 

NEW VENUE: Korhely restaurant, Pécs, Boltív köz 2, 7621 Hungary


Admission is free, but seats are limited. Please register by clicking here.

Neurosciences in the Media

The common purpose of Science Communicators – from scientists to journalists is to increase the level of science literacy of the public, Science and technology are pervasive in contemporary society. Biomedical science output is larger and more dynamic than ever. Some of this work raises interesting and unexpected questions, other touches on fundamental issues of life and death, raising ethical questions. What is the public to make of all this intense activity? Firstly, they need to hear about it, then to try to understand it and then, maybe, to have some opinions.

Science journalism has a crucial role to play at this interface between science and the public. Whereas science values the objective, the facts and the numbers, the detail. journalism values the immediate, the personal story, the words, the colloquial and the metaphors. How are then the journalists and the science communicators negotiate these potential tensions between the science facts and results and the need to provide the public with an interesting narrative? And then, on reporting on science discoveries, who has the ultimate editorial control - the journalist or the scientist? When conflicts arise, its resolution depends on addressing another relevant question: who then are the science journalists serving: their public audience or the science (/the scientists)? Certainly answering such questions needs to take into account the local conditions: the strength of the local science, the trust the scientists enjoy in their society, the level of science literacy in the general population.

The effectiveness of reaching out and informing depends on the adequate use of the communication medium and this event will focus on the spoken word (both radio and the congener podcast output). This medium is, arguably, richer in intellectual and cultural value, providing for a more elaborate and sophisticated approach to the themes and an active encouragement  of listeners’ imagination , rather than the somewhat ‘easier’  and, from the viewers’ perspective, the more passive medium of the moving images.