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Art and Cognition Confluence

Coordinators: Jaison Manjaly & Argha Manna

We thank Uthara Brahadeesh for securing the Cognitive Science Society Grant, which enabled us to conduct this confluence. 

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Artwork by Argha Manna

The background art is a collage of Robert Fludd’s cognitive model illustrated in 1619 and French Surrealist Andre Masson’s sketch from the 1960s, reimagined by Argha Manna. Robert Fludd was an English physician and philosopher from the 17th century who inquired about human cognition, consciousness, and relation to the cosmos. In Fludd’s original drawing, he illustrated the fundamental networks of human cognition as three units named mundus sensibilis, mundus imaginabilis and mundus intellectualis. In the poster, the colored circles represent Fludd’s design reimagined. The abstract part of the poster represents Andre Mason, who was deeply inspired by Santiago Raman Cajal’s work. After winning the Nobel Prize in 1905, Cajal became an inspiring figure in the surrealist art movement across Europe. Among the surrealists, Andre Masson took direct inspiration from Cajal’s neuron drawings. Inspired by Cajal and new developments in neuroscience, Masson started abstract drawings like neuron neural networks that Cajal documented through drawings. Cajal himself was a brilliant artist. Henceforth, this poster is a tribute to the interconnectedness of art and science. 

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Art and Cognition Confluence

Art and cognition are two profound aspects of the human experience that have captivated our imagination and intellect for centuries. They exist in parallel and still shape each other. The Art and Cognition Confluence will delve into how they intersect, enrich one another, and impact our lives.


Art, in its various forms – visual, auditory, and performative – serves as a medium of expression, communication, and aesthetic experience. It reflects our creativity, emotions, and thoughts, often transcending language to communicate ideas. Cognition, on the other hand, encompasses the mental processes involved in acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses. These processes include perception, memory, reasoning, problem-solving, and emotion. Together, they enable us to make sense of the world around us and respond to it. The confluence of art and cognition is an intersection where creativity and aesthetics come together to shape our perceptions, emotions, and intellectual abilities. ​

Art and cognition are not separate entities; they are in a symbiotic relationship that enriches us intellectually and emotionally. This connection has been a source of inspiration for artists and scientists. It challenges us to explore the intricacies of creative and cognitive processes. Understanding this confluence offers insights into the fundamental nature of the human experience. 


The Art and Cognition Confluence is a two-day residency by Curiosity Lab, IIT Gandhinagar, in collaboration with the Cognitive Science Society. It will explore Art, Cognition, and their intertwined relationship to gain deeper insights into our surroundings.

Application Deadline

January 20th

Selected Participants

January 25th


February 10 - 11th


25 Participants

2 Days

Interdisciplinary Exploration




Students (i.e., undergraduates, postgraduates, and PhD students) and early career researchers with an interest in cognitive science, design or art are eligible. 



The workshop, accommodation, and food will be free of cost. 


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Artist in Residence, IIT Gandhinagar

Argha Manna, a cancer researcher turned comics artist, combines his artistic and research skills to explore historical perspectives of scientific development and social issues. He bridges the gap between academic research and visual storytelling. Notable projects include 'Famine Tales from India and Britain' and a comic book on Ant Network Theory. Argha collaborates with institutions like the University of Exeter, the British Library, and MIT to translate complex scientific concepts into comics, particularly focusing on infectious disease research. His storytelling philosophy emphasizes a blend of text, images, and comics, featured in Nature India.


Faculty-in-charge, Music Cognition Lab, NIMHANS

Shantala Hegde is a neuropsychologist and a musician. Her lab is India’s first to study music perception and cognition. She is an Adjunct Faculty at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Visiting Associate Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School and a Visiting Scientist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She is trained in Hindustani classical music and is featured on the ‘Uma Sahasram’ CD. She continues to learn under the tutelage of Smt Bharathi Prathap, a leading musician of the Agra Atrauli Gharana in the country.


Teaching Faculty, Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design and Technology

Dyutiman Mukhopadhyay is a cognitive scientist, photographer, filmmaker and writer. He works at the confluence of the arts and sciences and is a practitioner of fine arts. He is a former British Academy Newton International Fellow at University College London (Experimental Psychology, Faculty of Brain Sciences, School of Life Sciences) as well as an Honourary Adjunct Professor at NIAS (Consciousness Studies). As a researcher, he studies human emotions using art as an investigative tool and develops multi-modal communication strategies for the betterment of mental health.


Founder Director, ARISA Foundation 

Kohinoor Darda, a Cognitive Neuroscientist and professional Indian classical dancer, is the Founder and Director of ARISA (Advancement and Research in the Sciences and Arts) Foundation. She did her Postdoctoral Research at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Glasgow, and her PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at Bangor University. Her research interests lie at the intersection of social and cognitive neuroscience, vision sciences, and arts and empirical aesthetics.

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Artist, Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design and Technology

Roshan Sahi is a visual artist. He did his training in Fine Art from Kala Bhavan, Visva-Bharati University, Shantiniketan. He uses art and gardening as a medium to make people aware of their relationship with nature and the environment. Roshan has traveled across Europe and India professionally working in different contexts such as woodwork, ceramics, mural work, working in organic farms, and being a consultant in Arts Pedagogy.

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Sabarmati Bridge Research Fellow, IIT Gandhinagar 

Gayatri Nerpagar is a Sabarmati Bridge Research Fellow at the Department of Cognitive and Brain Sciences at IIT Gandhinagar and a trained Bharatnatyam dancer. She received her Master's degree in Cognitive Science from IIT Gandhinagar. Her research interests are emotion perception from body movements, Navarasa, Neuroaesthetics, and the Neural and Biomechanical basis of dance movements.

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Professor, IIT Gandhinagar

Jaison Manjaly is Jasubhai Memorial Chair Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science at IIT Gandhinagar. His research interests include curiosity, education, and exclusion. He is the Principal Investigator of the Curiosity Lab and Founder of Art@IITGN.


Professor, York University

Vinod Goel is a professor of cognitive neuroscience at York University, Toronto, Canada. He completed his PhD in cognitive science at UC Berkeley and received postdoctoral training in neuroscience at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the Wellcome Department of Cognitive Neurology, Institute of Neurology. He has spent 20+ years studying the cognitive and neural basis of human reasoning and problem-solving. His book "Reason and Less: Pursuing Food, Sex, and Politics" (The MIT Press, 2022) reconstructs the role of rationality in human behaviour.


Associate Professor and Director, Art Education Program, State University of New York

Andrea Kantrowitz, an artist and educator, is the Director of the Art Education Program at the State University of New York. She is internationally prominent in the field of Art and Cognition and has twice served as Singapore’s Outstanding Educator in Residence. She holds an MFA in Painting from Yale and a BA in Art and Cognition from Harvard University. Her book "Drawing Thought" (The MIT Press, 2022) explores how drawing helps us observe, discover, and invent.

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Associate Professor of Art, University of South Carolina

Dawn Hunter, a renowned visual artist and Fulbright Scholar, is an Associate Professor and a distinguished member of the faculty at the University of South Carolina's School of Visual Art and Design. She is best known for her artistic work on Santiago Cajal, the father of modern Neuroscience. She holds an MFA from the University of California and a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute. She has participated in numerous solo and multiple artist exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe. In 2021, she held a solo exhibition on "Aesthetic Instincts: The Intersection of Art and Science in the Life of Santiago Ramón y Cajal."


Professor of Psychology, University of Colorado

Frederick Coolidge is an Adjunct Faculty at IIT Gandhinagar and a Professor of Psychology at the University of Colorado, USA. He received his BA, MA, and PhD from the University of Florida and completed a two-year Postdoctoral Fellowship in Clinical Neuropsychology at Shands Teaching Hospital, University of Florida. He joined UCCS in 1979 and served as the Chair of the Department from 1986 to 1989 and as the Clinical Director from 1981 to 1984. Frederick is a three-time Fulbright Fellowship Award recipient (India, 1987, 1992, 2005). His research interests are Behavior Genetics, Cognitive Archaeology, and Personality Statistics.


Director, Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design and Technology 

Dr. Arindam Das has over 33 years of experience in academics. He holds a Master's in Fashion Management & Ph.D. from NIFT Delhi. He has previously held senior management positions with Pearl Academy of Fashion (PAF) and with the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) as the Director of the Delhi, Gandhinagar, and Shillong campuses.

Workshop Themes

Location: Art Studio, 2nd Floor, Central Arcade, IIT Gandhinagar

Art, Minds & Brains

Music & Mental Health

Neuroaesthetics: The Science of Art

Art & Cognition through comics

AI & Art

What does Drawing Do?

Dance & Emotion

Visual Thinking

Cajal's Legacy: Art, Perception and Persona

The Interconnectedness of Art and Cognition

Perception and Art

Art challenges our perception. It encourages us to view the world from different angles, to notice details, and to interpret abstract and symbolic forms. Our cognitive abilities, such as visual processing, are enriched through our interactions with art. Engaging with art sharpens our observation skills and develops a deeper understanding of the world.

Memory and Art

Art has a remarkable ability to evoke and enhance memory. When we view a painting or listen to music, we forge associations with our past experiences and emotions. This merging of memory with art enhances our cognitive ability to remember and recall information. Moreover, artists themselves employ memory extensively in creating and reproducing their works.

Creativity and Cognition

The act of creating art is an exercise in creativity. Whether one is painting, composing music, or choreographing a dance, cognitive processes underlie the creative act. Problem-solving, original thinking, and decision-making are all part of the artistic process, and these cognitive functions are honed through artistic expression.

Emotion and Art

The emotional impact of art is undeniable. Art can evoke a wide range of feelings, from joy and inspiration to sadness and introspection. In experiencing art, we engage our emotions and develop emotional intelligence, a vital component of cognitive development. Understanding and interpreting the emotions expressed in art deepen our empathy and social cognition.

The Cognitive Science Society brings together researchers from around the world who hold a common goal: understanding the nature of the human mind. The mission of the Society is to promote Cognitive Science as a discipline and to foster scientific interchange among researchers in various areas of study, including Artificial Intelligence, Linguistics, Anthropology, Psychology, Neuroscience, Philosophy, and Education. The Society is a non-profit professional organization and its activities include sponsoring an annual conference and publishing the journals Cognitive Science and Topics.

IIT Gandhinagar

IIT Gandhinagar


IIT Gandhinagar is located in Palaj, Gandhinagar, Gujarat on the banks of river Sabarmati. IIT Gandhinagar, founded in 2008, offers a unique educational experience in India with an innovative curriculum. The institute promotes critical thinking and an appreciation of interdisciplinary knowledge, emphasizing the liberal arts, project-oriented learning, and diversity.

IIT Gandhinagar campus is serene surrounded by lush greenery and a beautiful river, offering visitors an enriching experience. The campus architecture is a blend of traditional and modern style, making it a visual delight. Its natural beauty, modern infrastructure, and cultural diversity make it one of the most sought-after campuses in India for students and visitors alike.


The campus also offers a range of facilities for visitors, including a well-equipped library, sports facilities, and comfortable accommodation options.


Curiosity Lab, IIT Gandhinagar, Palaj, Gandhinagar, Gujarat


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