The Default Mode Network in Aesthetics and Creativity

Covering a wide range of work on the Default Mode Network (DMN), leading neuroscientists from top research institutes will gather in New York for a two-day symposium to discuss what the brain is doing when in a wakeful resting state. The DMN – a network of brain regions typically found to be suppressed when individuals focus on their external environment – has been hypothesized to generate spontaneous thoughts during daydreaming and may be crucial for self-referential mental processing, social interactions and the understanding of many neurological disorders.

Topics of discussion include the discovery and metabolic characterization of the DMN, the relationship and functional dynamics between the DMN and other networks that are identifiable through resting-state functional connectivity, task-based studies that have helped to characterize the involvement of subnetworks of the DMN in a variety of functions, the relevance of DMN function for a variety of disease states, social neuroscience work that has investigated the role of the DMN in "self versus other" distinctions, and the potential involvement of the DMN in aesthetic experience and creativity.

The symposium appeals to scientists with expertise in neuroscience or psychology, as well as humanists and artists interested in neuroscientific research.

The event, hosted by the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America at Columbia University in cooperation with the College of Arts and Science at New York University, will feature talks by Randy Buckner, Felicity Callard, Maurizio Corbetta, Rex Jung, Bill Kelley, Daniel Margulies, Marcus Raichle, Nathan Spreng, Yvette Sheline, and Ed Vessel.

Thurs, Feb 6 · NYU

Keynote speech at 5:30 pm
NYU · Silver Center for Arts and Science, Jurow Lecture Hall, 31 Washington Place
(between Greene St. and Washington Sq. East) · New York, NY 10003

Fri, Feb 7 · The Italian Academy, Columbia University

Full-day conference starting at 8:30 am
The Italian Academy, Columbia University · 1161 Amsterdam Ave
(just south of 118th St) · New York, NY 10027


Randy Buckner
Professor of Psychology, Harvard University

Randy Buckner is Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the Center for Brain Science, Harvard University and Harvard Medical School. His research focuses on how brain systems support memory function in humans, employing molecular, structural, and functional imaging methods to characterize distinct age-dependent cascades that influence memory function. | MORE INFO

Felicity Callard
Senior Lecturer in Social Science for Medical Humanities, Durham University

Felicity Callard is Senior Lecturer in Social Science for Medical Humanities at Durham University (United Kingdom). Callard has broad research interests in the history of psychiatry, psychoanalysis and cognitive neuroscience. Her current projects include a critical exploration of the field of resting state functional neuroimaging research, and a historical and conceptual study of the nascent interdisciplinary domain of neuro-psychoanalysis.

Maurizio Corbetta
Norman J. Stupp Professor of Neurology; Chief of the Division of Neuro-Rehabilitation

I am interested in studying how the brain selects information, and how the brain recovers after injury. The first line of research is motivated by the desire to understand 'awareness' and its close partnership with attention. The second line of research is motivated by my own experience that patients with stroke improve over time, and that we do not have a clue on how the brain does it. Hopefully, these studies will provide a solid scientific foundation for novel neuro-rehabilitation strategies.

Rex Jung
Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, University of New Mexico

Rex E. Jung, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of New Mexico, Research Scientist at the Mind Research Network, and a practicing clinical neuropsychologist in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His research is designed to relate behavioral measures – including intelligence, personality, and creativity – to brain function and structure in healthy neurological and psychiatric patients.

Bill Kelley
Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth University

Bill Kelley is Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth University. Kelley's research seeks to – through neuroimaging, neuropsychological and brain techniques – answer how the brain maintains memories; how cognitive and emotional experiences give rise to an individual's unique sense of self; how the brain represents different kinds of reward; and how one self-regulates against short-term rewards when they could lead to maladaptive habits. | MORE INFO

Daniel S. Margulies
Group Leader, Max Planck Research Group "Neuroanatomy and Connectivity"

Daniel S. Margulies is Max Planck Society W2 Professor, and Group Leader of the Max Planck Research Group: Neuroanatomy & Connectivity, at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive & Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany. His research concerns cortical organization as described by intrinsic functional connectivity, its relationship to self-generated thought, and the modulation of functional brain organization by changes in frameworks that constitute an individual's identity.

Marcus Raichle
Professor of Radiology, Neurology, Neurobiology and Biomedical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis

Marcus Raichle, a neurologist, is a Professor of Radiology, Neurology, Neurobiology and Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St Louis. He and his colleagues have made outstanding contributions to the study of human brain function through brain imaging techniques, such as the development and use of positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Yvette Sheline
Professor of Psychiatry, Radiology and Neurology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Yvette Sheline is Professor of Psychiatry, Radiology and Neurology at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. With clinical interests in treatment-resistant depression and dementia, her research focuses on brain structural changes associated with depression, as well as structural and functional imaging studies in affective disorders.

Nathan Spreng
Assistant Professor, Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow, Cornell University

Nathan Spreng is Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow, Assistant Professor and Director of the Laboratory of Brain and Cognition in the Department of Human Development at Cornell University. Spreng's research examines large-scale brain network dynamics and their role in cognition, as well as the link between autobiography and imagination, and successful navigation of the social world. | MORE INFO

Edward A. Vessel
Director, NYU ArtLab, Asst. Research Scientist, CBI

Ed Vessel is Assistant Research Scientist at the Center for Brain Imaging at New York University. His research analyzes visual preferences and the behavioral and neural underpinnings of people's responses to artwork; neurobiology of the "infovore"; sensory development; and representations of sensation and knowledge. | MORE INFO