Volume 6 Issue 2 (2010): Research Practice in Art and Design: Experiential Knowledge and Organised Inquiry
Experiential Knowledge in Organised Inquiry

The Role of Experiential Knowledge in the Ultimate Design Studio: The Brain

John Onians
Published February 26, 2011
  • neural network,
  • neuroarthistory,
  • neural plasticity,
  • neural mirroring,
  • experiential knowledge,
  • Gerard Caris
  • ...More


An understanding of how our experiences shape the neural networks in our brains, which condition our subsequent actions and experiences, can be useful in explaining patterns found in art and design. This is the perspective of neuroarthistory, which can be applied at different levels, from the patterns unfolding in the works of a single artist/designer to the much wider epochal patterns discovered through archaeological studies. This article introduces the neuroscientific principles of "neural plasticity" and "neural mirroring," and demonstrates their application to explain the patterns found in prehistoric, medieval, and contemporary art and design expressions.