Thanks to the confluence of recent researches into the fields of Neurosciences, Phisiology, Biology, Physics, Cognitive Studies, radical changes have occurred in the traditional processes of western culture inherent in the acquisition and understanding of knowledge.
Humanities have taken part to the current transformation of epistemological paradigms as well. This is proved by the recent contributions of Neuroaesthetics, Cognitive Cultural Studies, Philosophy of Mind, Neurophenomenology, etc.
The NeuroHumanities Studies Network aims at creating a multidisciplinary research community in order to develop and structure a linking platform for neuro-scientific, cognitive topics and humanities.
This trans-disciplinary research field focuses on the idea of the human being as enactive unit, made of brain and body. Enactive knowledge and embodied cognition will be the common starting points of our research. It implies that cognitive activity takes place in the context of a real-world environment, which inherently involves perception and action.
Therefore culture is interpreted as a “whole way of life” and art as a concrete cognitive tool particularly suited to represent and communicate unique ways of perceiving and understanding reality.
The branch of studies, concerning those cultural phenomena, starts by interpreting them as an expression of our way of “being alive”, both as epistemological and ontological expression.
Hence art is considered as a creative human process of experiencing and understanding reality and communicating it through symbols and metaphors, it is no more possible to analyse any artistic work regardless of the complex dynamics of the human cognitive system.
The NeuroHumanities Studies Network is sponsored by the Department of Humanistic Studies of Catania. It involves several other scholars from different countries (see our Board of Directors) collaborating at book projects, co-organized workshops and conferences, interdisciplinary studies about neuroscience, art and humanities. This movement of scholars enables cross-national comparative work and genuinely interdisciplinary development of working projects.
Our first target is to give birth to a broad international exchange about projects, information and materials in order to give strength to those studies and projects, which try to develop scientific research based on new cognitive paradigms, to link humanities with science in a very practical way and to involve young people in this new field of research.
We want to offer the opportunity of exchanging information and knowledge tryng to develope a community interested in researches concerning border fields like empathy, synergy, attention, memory, creativity, reading, motion, consciousness, decision-making, criticism, etc.
For these reasons, our research group made up of scholars, researchers and Phd coming from the University Catania has invited all interested research centres, scholars and independent groups or researchers to take part to the project by publishing papers, advertising their projects, sharing information, or simply writing brief comments to books or essys, in order to give birth and strength to a real trans-disciplinary international exchange.
To create an innovative and open platform we have worked closely on the design and software of our website. In this sense the layout was specifically created by the team project to help users to easily find papers, news and information and to stimulate their interest and participation to the project. About our software system, our choice was made after a first feasibility study in which it was employed a custom version of Wordpress CMS, to allow the research group to work easily on an actual model and to begin to test the interest to that topic among scholars. After the creation of an international board of directors, who are working in different disciplines, the team proceeded in developing the network system.
The instance to combine high technological levels and theoretical structure, according with digital humanities paradigms, have lead the choice on Ninive, a textual archives and bibliographies managing system suitable for digital libraries, produced by Salvatore Arcidiacono.
Ninive is a platform dedicated to scientific projects and employed in many academic initiatives like SALVIt.org (approved by MIUR - PRIN 2007) and the bibliographic archive www.csfls.it
We implemented the minimal configuration of the system (Ninive Core), integrating the existing Wordpress site. The modular architecture, the object-oriented programming model and the relational model of the database allow the fast activation of additional functions, which have been expressly developed for the NeuroHumanities Studies project. These functions (already developed) will be activated on the platform once the creation of the bibliographic archive will be forwarded.
In the final version the system will include:
- The comment system for certified users;
- The semantic tag managing system (structured by Topics and Disciplines, but predisposed to manage countless markers typologies and virtually capable to divide up the archive in multiple bibliographies hierarchically structured).
- A powerful managing system of the archive files on the server, which give the possibility to share files in multiple publications, and to administer server folders.
- A filtering system for the uploaded file, capable to limit the access to some publications to specific user groups.
- Organization tools for the activities of research group.
- A content managing system (the CMS module) for the storage of all the resources, with automated migration of all content previously uploaded on Wordpress version of the site.
- Storage and visualization tools for multimedia content.
- Bibliographic item import and export tools, according to International standards (XML TEI and, eventually, the Z39.50 protocol.
Our goal is to create an easy and dynamic network made up to stimulate research projects and a dialogue between scholars from different countries, young researchers and students, who are interested in cognitive sciences and humanities. Moreover, we are trying to encourage students (by now just from the University of Catania) to participate on our projects, by editing news, researching useful information, images or contacts, reading papers, commenting them and publishing their research projects. This will give them the opportunity to know more about the topic, be up to date and active part of the academic world and of this new research field.