Text full multimedia monochrome

First time here?

Find out more about how The Lecture List works.

Coronavirus situation update

Our lecture organisers may or may not have had time to update their events with cancellation notices. Clearly social gatherings are to be avoided and that includes lectures. STAY AT HOME FOLKS, PLEASE.


Find out what you can do to keep The Lecture List online

Splendours and miseries of the brain

Semir Zeki, Professor of Neurobiology at University College London, discussed how the work of artists and writes reflects the physiology of the brain, and how this is linked to emotional response.

In studying how the human brain functions, the neurobiologist uses not only the knowledge derived from traditional approaches such as anatomy, physiology and brain imaging, but also that derived from the products of the brain, such as art, literature and music, which provide powerful insights into how the brain is organised.

This lecture argues that the brain is above all a knowledge-acquiring system. By synthesising all experiences we develop ‘ideal’ concepts. However, exposure to particular experiences can often be at odds with the ideal concepts formulated by the brain, and this commonly leads to dissatisfaction and disappointment. Freud identified our ‘mental constitution’ as the basis for human suffering, and Zeki will argue that at the heart of the matter are brain concepts that cannot be satisfied.

Professor Zeki demonstrates how the work of artists and writers reflects the physiology of the brain, and how this is linked to emotional response.


Prof Semir Zeki | talks


Date and Time:

18 October 2005 at 7:30 pm


1 hour



The Royal Museum Lecture Theatre
(Lothian Street entrance)
Chambers Street

Show map

Organised by:

The Edinburgh Lectures
See other talks organised by The Edinburgh Lectures...



£3 per ticket administrative fee

Available from:

Usher Hall Box office
0131 228 1155

Additional Information:


Register to tell a friend about this lecture.


If you would like to comment about this lecture, please register here.


Any ad revenue is entirely reinvested into the Lecture List's operating fund