Hybrid Encounters: Speaker Introduction - Prof. Dr. Arno Villringer

Concerning the network structure of perception...

On November the 24th, the first edition of our new series “Hybrid Encounters”, which is a cooperation with Schering Stiftung, will provide a meeting place for art and science – more specific, for the art of performing dance and the specialized discipline of neuronal imaging. Prof. Dr. Arno Villringer will be presenting the scientific side of this interaction. But in what way can a specialized scientist contribute to the free form of artistic perdormance?

Specialized in the fields of neuroimaging, Prof. Dr. Arno Villringer is an interesting conversation partner when it comes to interdisciplinary research. For his work at the Berlin NeuroImaging Center, he seeks the expertise of psychologists, linguists, biologists, chemists, computational neuroscientists and many more. Furthermore, as the Academic Director of the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, his research on the human brain is situated in close proximity to philosophical theories of the mind.

When it comes to a connection with the performing arts, Villringer published interesting studies on the experience and performance of musical harmony, putting focus especially on the neuronal processes that take place during the act of music making.

“The processing of musical harmony is a network capacity with dissociated dorsal and ventral motor and auditory circuits, which both provide the infrastructure for predictive mechanisms optimising action and perception performance.” (Bianco R. , Novembre G., Keller, P.E., Kim SG, Scharf, F., Friederici A.D., Villringer A., Sammler D.(2006): “Neural networks für harmonic structure in music perception and action”, in: NeuroImage 142, S. 454-464)

In this way, Prof. Dr. Arno Villringer et al. argue their thesis concerning the neuronal processes that take place, when performing musical actions. Formulated in other words: When acting out or producing musical harmony, ones cognition is heavily relying on other knowledge, which enables one to recognize patterns and anticipate behaviour. Imagined as a network structure, a performance can be explained as relying on increasing the amount of junctions or nodes, that are available for association.

The upcoming Hybrid Encounter, will put the expert in cognitive neurology along side the renowned dancer Siobhan Davies. Such a mixture of artistic performance and scientific talk will give an opportunity to experience the network structure of knowledge first hand.

- Benedikt