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Body and Image in Arts and Sciences (BIAS)

NOMIS Project 2016

— 2021

The Body and Image in Arts and Sciences (BIAS) project was an innovative interdisciplinary research program that merged perspectives from cognitive neurosciences and psychology with those from the humanities and arts to study the performative power of images. Research was conducted at the Warburg Institute, the premier institute in the world for the study of cultural history and the role of images in culture, inspired by Aby Warburg’s unparalleled interdisciplinary vision on the history of images.

Warburg’s intellectual aim was to trace the transmission of thought through images, and the ways in which these were embodied in pictorial expression. Throughout his work, he insisted on the study of the body and its biological expressive power to shed light on art and culture. The questions he asked in the context of art history and the answers he proposed remain relevant today, for understanding the culture that we live in, as well as for the present and future of the relations between the humanities and sciences insofar as they share the common goal of understanding the human condition and culture. It is at this intersection between the “highways of culture and the pathways of the mind” that the BIAS project placed itself: How do we relate to and respond to each other in a culture powered by images? To answer this question, BIAS bridged scientific insights on the underlying physiological, neural and cognitive mechanisms with a scholarly understanding of the cultural, historical and political context within which such mechanisms are deployed.

The project was led by NOMIS Awardee Manos Tsakiris at the Warburg Institute, University of London, UK.


NOMIS Researcher(s)

Professor of Psychology
Royal Holloway University of London, The Warburg Institute

Project News

A study by NOMIS Awardee Manos Tsakiris and colleagues has shown that rhesus macaques can perceive their own heartbeat. The work could provide an important model for future psychiatric research, […]

NOMIS Awardee Manos Tsakiris has published an essay in Aeon addressing visceral politics. In an age thick with anger and fear, we might dream of a purely rational politics but […]

NOMIS researcher and Distinguished Scientist Award winner Professor Manos Tsakiris talks about how our bodies are represented in our brains and how neurocognitive mechanisms shape our physical experiences in his […]


Project Insights

Abstract: When we see new people, we rapidly form first impressions. Whereas past research has focused on the role of morphological or emotional cues, we asked whether transient visceral states bias the impressions we form. Across three studies (N = 94 university students), we investigated how fluctuations of bodily states, driven
Abstract: During political campaigns, candidates use rhetoric to advance competing visions and assessments of their country. Research reveals that the moral language used in this rhetoric can significantly influence citizens' political attitudes and behaviors; however, the moral language actually used in the rhetoric of elites during political campaigns remains understudied. Using