Brain, emotions, language, art and creativity

Explore how neurobiology, the study of emotions, and mother language have an impact on creativity and art appreciation.


Toronto | April 5 to 6  2022



In hybrid format | in-person and virtual

Satellite Events

Monday April 4, from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm at the l’Alliance Française in Toronto (24 Spadina Rd.)

Opening of the exhibit Un oeil | Cinq piliers en arts visuels de l’Ontario français and the launches of the book Confluences by BRAVO and  FR magazine by the AGAVF.

Tuesday APRIL 5 2022

(1:00 PM) Presentation

Bureau des regroupements des artistes visuels de l’Ontario

Welcoming > Mónica Márquez

Territorial Acknowledgement

Words from our main funders

Presentation of the “Symposium” > Prof. Yves M. Larocque

(1:30 PM) The hominization of the brain: from genes to culture | Epigenetics, consciousness, and culture

Prof. Jean-Pierre Changeux

CNRS et Collège de France, Paris, France

The work of art is generated by the brain’s “physical-chemical machinery”, whose development is not only born of genetics but also of its familial, social, and cultural environment, hence the “epigenetic development of the brain”. What is the role of emotions in the epigenetic development of the brain? Where lies consciousness?


(2:30 PM) Emotions, feelings, and the human condition

Prof. Gerald Cupchik

University of Toronto

Where do emotions come from? Are emotions universal? What is the difference between emotions and feelings? What are the links between emotions, mind and body? How the appeal to emotions is effective to influence behavior and trigger action?


(3:45 PM) The importance of the mother tongue in an era of English and digital hegemony

Prof. Jean Grondin

Université de Montréal

There is no doubt that our cultural situation is increasingly dominated by the dual hegemony of English and new digital technologies. If these enable new forms of communication and even creative work, they threaten many forms of communication rooted in a mother tongue other than English and risk leading to an impoverishment of our civilisation and our experience of the world. Starting from the model of contemporary philosophy and hermeneutics, this short paper will attempt to highlight some of the impasses caused by this new cultural hegemony and to justify modes of expression, thought and creation that are rooted in their mother tongue and in a temporality other than that of digital technologies.

(4:45 PM) Fostering Creativity : Insights from Neuroscience

Prof. Oshin Vartanian

University of Toronto, Canada

There is growing evidence from neuroimaging to suggest that creativity emerges from the dynamic interaction of large-scale networks in the brain − each of which supports a different mode of thinking. Can artists develop the ability to shift between these modes of thinking to boost the generation of novel ideas? (en anglais)

(6:00 PM - 7:00 PM) Opening reception at the UOF

Wednesday APRIL 6 2022

(9:15 AM) Beauty in the brain | Brain, emotions, visual arts, and newness

Prof. Jean-Pierre Changeux

CNRS et Collège de France, Paris, France


The work of art is a cerebral production engaged in a kind of social communication, distinct and complementary to language. It intervenes mainly in the sharing of emotional states and is subject to constraints, which are those of the rules of art. How can the visual artist maximize the impact of his work on the viewer?

(10:15 AM) The brain, emotions, memory and music

Prof. Hervé Platel

Université de Caen, France


Music is an art of memory, because in order to fully appreciate the listening of a work, it is necessary to keep in immediate memory the elements already perceived and to compare them with the repertoire of the music already heard in our life, so that each new music becomes meaningful and is lived and analyzed as an aesthetic experience, whether we like or not what we have just heard. The memories and all the musical moments could potentially be associated by particular emotions that would not be preserved independently of their associated contents.


(11:15) Emotions, culture and aesthetic judgment

Gerald Cupchik

University of Toronto, Canada


The depth of the aesthetic experience reflects the quality of the interaction that results from an encounter between either an artist or a beholder and a a work of art. It involves a balance between familiar themes or qualities (mimesis) and personal meanings (spirit resonance). To what extent are our judgments of quality integrated with our lives and feelings? (en anglais)

(1:30 PM) Emotions, mother tongue and second languages

Jean-Marc Dewaele

Birkbeck, University of London, U.K.

Multilinguals prefer to communicate their emotions in particular languages because of perceived emotional resonance. Why are languages acquired early in life usually felt to be more emotional and powerful? What is the impact of language choices in self-expression?

(2:30 PM) Culture, multilingualism and creativity

Prof. Enrica Piccardo

University of Toronto, Canada


The experience of linguistic and cultural diversity can have a significant impact on the creative potential of individuals who find themselves constantly mediating between different languages, cultures, identities, and worldviews. This back and forth stimulates an awareness of the complexity and fluidity of the plurilingual experience. Plurilinguals would be more capable of perceiving and crossing boundaries, thus creating in-between spaces and making them spaces of cre-action.

(3:45 PM) Body, Senses, and Creativity

Vanina Leschziner

University of Toronto, Canada

When creating a new song, a piece of art, or a culinary dish, the information and stimuli on which individuals draw on are associated to their sensory experiences of the sound of instrumental combinations, the texture of clay or oil paints, or the smell, taste, and appearance of ingredients they have either experienced in the past or have yet to experience. In short, the knowledge artists draw on for their creative endeavors is better understood as grounded in their own flesh and blood. (en anglais)

( 4:45 PM) Conclusion


(6:30 PM - 8:30 PM) AGO Bistro - Book Launch "Laurent L. Vaillancourt, à la confluence de l'art conceptuel et d'un nouvel Ontario"

Laurent L. Vaillancourt

Visual artist established in Hearst (Ontario)

For the past 40 years, Laurent L. Vaillancourt has been an agent of change on the Francophone art scene in small communities in Ontario. His work, resolutely assuming his roots, explores Francophone identity with strategies that promote mutual understanding and highlight a plural identity. His work shows that an artist can not only settle in the North but also renew himself and, more significantly, be part of the major trends in current art, producing relevant work that is in tune with the times.

by Gabrielle-Louise Noël and edited by Yves M. Larocque
















Federation of Canadian Artists

© Walk the Arts | BRAVO 2022


À l’image de la communauté francophone de l’Ontario, BRAVO réunit les artistes en arts visuels, médiatiques et de métiers d’arts et les appuie dans leurs milieux respectifs, pour leur permettre d’atteindre leurs objectifs professionnels.



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