Uta Frith – The Curious Brain in the Museum

by Neuroconscience

It’s not everyday that collaborations between the humanities and sciences lead to tangible fruits- but I’m excited to share with you one case in which they did, with surprisingly cute results! Leading development psychologist and Interacting Minds Research Foundation Professor, Uta Frith recently gave the Victoria and Albert Museum’s 2010 Henry Cole lecture. Below you will find the power-point slides from this talk, in which she discussed the relationship between her recent work on social learning and the experience of a museum. Interestingly, a film maker was inspired to put together the following short film, “The Curious Brain in the Museum.” It’s a very well done film and a fascinating look at the museum through Uta’s eyes.

Here are the slides from the talk:

And the resulting video:

In this short film, specially commissioned as part of the Royal Society’s 350th anniversary celebrations in 2010, Professor Uta Frith FRS and her young companion, Amalie Heath-Born, find out just what goes on inside our brains when we view the treasures on display at London’s world-famous Victoria and Albert Museum.

“The human mind/brain is exquisitely social and automatically responds to signals sent by other people. These signals can be artfully designed objects, and these can come from people long in the past. The art and design that is embodied in the object can evoke in the brain different streams of imagination: how it was made, the value it represents, and the meaning it conveys. The human mind/brain has ancient reward systems, which respond to, say, stimuli signaling food to the hungry, but also respond to social stimuli signaling relevance to the curious. This makes for a never ending well spring of spontaneous teaching and learning. Education in the museum environment is perfectly attuned to the curious mind.”  Uta Frith (2010)

You can read more about the event and the film on the Royal Society page.