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Houston Public Media Spotlights UH Research Exploring Creativity and the Brain
Natalie Thayer
Amy Bishop at the Blaffer Art Museum, photo by Alvaro Ortiz
Amy Bishop at the Blaffer Art Museum, photo by Alvaro Ortiz

The Cullen College continues to make headlines with research exploring the intersection of neuroscience, engineering and art conducted by Jose Luis “Pepe” Contreras-Vidal, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen University Professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Last week, Houston Public Media featured research by Contreras-Vidal and his students in a two-part story by arts and culture reporter Amy Bishop.

“The theory that the brain has a positive response to art is not new to science. But a researcher at the University of Houston is using a different approach to test that belief,” begins the first part of Bishop’s story, titled “University Of Houston Brain Study Explores Intersection Of Art And Science.”

As part of this work, Contreras-Vidal and his students host a variety of events to collect neural data from thousands of people while they engage in creative activities, such as dancing, drawing and viewing artwork, outside of the lab. The collection of this data in real world settings is what makes this work stand apart.

As Contreras-Vidal said to Bishop, “it’s as real as it gets.”

For the second part of the story, titled “What Do Our Brains Look Like When Art Get Involved?,” Bishop participated in one of these studies by viewing an exhibition at the University of Houston’s Blaffer Art Museum while fitted with an EEG cap. Afterward, she met with Contreras-Vidal in his lab to view the EEG signals collected while she viewed the artwork. 

The series aired on Jan. 20th and 21st. Listen to the broadcasts and read the full transcriptions of parts one and two at

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