Neuroscientist Professor V D Ramachandran is Director of the Centre for Brain and Cognition at the University of California, San Diego. And he was in Australia for the Alfred Deakin Innovation Lectures in Melbourne recently.
His adventurous book Phantoms in the Brain should be by your bed if you haven't read it. And out recently is also A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness. Ramachandran is celebrated as one of the most creative communicators about the brain and its discontents. And more recently he has turned his attention to the question: What is Art? Have artists been surreptitiously co opted by a brain that's evolved over millennia? For his explorations Richard Dawkins has described Ramachandran's or Rama as he's known, as a latter day Marco Polo, journeying the silk road of science to strange and exotic Cathays of the minds. So is what does it feel like doing brain research at the turn of the 21st Century ?
You can read this fascinating full radio interview by clicking on the icon or link at the end of this posting. Ramachandran suggests there may be some common biological or neurological bases to all aesthetic experience but that's half the fun he tells us. He calls art, by the way, a visual foreplay before the climax of recognition he thinks aesthetic experiences are about generating as many aha's moments as he calls them in the brain as possible. Just as intellectual problem solving is pleasurable long before you solve it, otherwise there wouldn't be scientists, as there's miles and miles of frustration before you hit the jackpot. So what keeps us going is there are many ah's all along the way and he thinks that's equally true in visual problem solving and visual art.