The Neuromantics – Episode 5

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Episode 5 of our neuroscience and literature podcast looks at emotions and the body with as much objectivity as it can muster. The two texts under discussion drill down into how (and where in the body) we feel things, what it is that we call emotion, and how feelings change or persist over time.

Sarah Maguire‘s “The Hearing Cure” (a poem from her 1997 collection The Invisible Mender: uses pain, fear and relief associated with illness in the present to make a memory map of motherly love. Do we remember childhood emotions? When do we start organising impressions into a story?

“Bodily Maps of Emotions” by Lauri Nummenmaa et al ( investigates the locations of somatic response in the body and reaches some striking conclusions: laughter (but not its meaning) translates across cultures as a socially acceptable non-verbal expression, crows know what it is to be looked at, and sadness is oddly hard to place. Sophie and Will have a polite disagreement about recognition, but a false dichotomy – are emotions inherited or cultural? – brings them back together again. Happy Days. (S. Beckett – that’s in there, too).

The Neuromantics – Episode 4

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Welcome to The Neuromantics, a monthly look-twice-both-ways at the crossroads of neuroscience and literature. In this fourth episode, Will Eaves and Professor Sophie Scott consider death and the different ways in which humans and primates respond to a loss of agency.

Topics whispered and bewailed include ghostly voices in English poetry, the uses of the corpse in primate groupings, smell and decay, the relationship between high sociability and infanticide, Penelope Fitzgerald’s “hieroglyphic” view of human relations, and the ritual divestment of body and life in Mesopotamian epic. All in less than the time it takes to boil ten eggs (one after the other).

The three publications under discussion are: “Remember” (1849, published 1862) by Christina Rossetti (, “Death Among Primates: A critical review of non-human primate interactions towards their dead and dying”, 2019, by André Gonçalves and Susana Carvalho (, and the first chapter of The Bookshop (1978) by Penelope Fitzgerald (

The Neuromantics – Episode 3

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Welcome to the third Neuromantics podcast, brought to you by Sophie Scott and Will Eaves. In this month’s edition, we’re looking at visual representation, mental imagery, and the relationship between sensory awareness in humans and the cultivated idea of an “inner world”.

Topics covered, uncovered, and discovered, include the gulf between visual and spatial recognition, how visualisation is linked to making things, the proximity of aesthetics to task specialisation, Impressionism, Milton’s blindness, and watching and acting in the work of the gay writer Saki (H. H. Munro).

The two publications under discussion are: “The Blind Mind: No Sensory Visual Imagery in Aphantasia”, by Rebecca Keogh and Joel Pearson, (Cortex 105, 2018, 53–60: and “The Lumber Room” (1914), by Saki (

The Neuromantics – Episode 2

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Welcome, listeners, new and nearly new, to The Neuromantics.

Here‘s the second episode of what will be – we promise – a monthly podcast about literature, neuroscientific research and the surprising correspondences between the two in identifying and exploring fundamental traits of human communication.

The idea: we give each other homework. I have to read a scientific paper and Sophie has to read some poetry or a story. We then see how they inform each other. There is music by Michael Caines and there will be guests in the future. We thank the Royal Society of Literature for the generous award of a Literature Matters grant that will make editing, presentation, and live events (!), possible.

In Episode 2, we’re looking at: “The Construction of Autobiogaphical Memories in the Self-Memory System” by M. A. Conway and C. W. Pleydell-Pearce (2000), and the Induction (spoken by “Rumour”) to King Henry IV Part 2 by William Shakespeare. Topics covered in our discussion include: event-specific knowledge, general knowledge, smell, music, rumour, lies and recognition, personification, gossip and socialisation, and the truth basis of language. We hope you enjoy it.

Comments (clean, constructive) more than welcome and do, please, spread the word. We’re on iTunes.

The Neuromantics - Episode 1

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Welcome to The Neuromantics – a monthly podcast for writers, psychologists, neuroscientists, poets, philosophers, comedians, musicians, and anyone interested in the exchange of ideas.

The idea: a free-ranging conversation between Professor Sophie Scott ( and @sophiescott) of the Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL and Will Eaves about the brain, the mind, language, gesture, and communication as a fundamental property of science, literature and the arts.

The format: roughly 30 mins of chat with musical stings in the punning style of the podcast title by Michael Caines. Sophie shares a bit of research. Will brings along a poem, story, speech, or essay. There will be guests in the future. There will be events.

In Episode One, we think about processes in science and writing – the general picture of mistake-making – and revisit both Alan Newell‘s 1973 paper, “You Can’t Play Twenty Questions with Nature and Win” (read it here: and U. A. Fanthorpe’s Christmas poem, “The Sheepdog” (2002).

We hope you enjoy The Neuromantics. Sharpen your pencil-mike and leave a comment. Keep it clean.