Neuroaesthetics and Users’ Preferences Research

Menil Collaboration


Supported by: Menil Foundation



We propose to investigate correspondences between neural function and perceptual, affective and cognitive processes that make up human aesthetic experience in a public setting. In this collaboration with conceptual artist Dario Robleto, we instrument museum-goers with wireless dry electrode scalp electroencephalography (EEG) headsets from several manufacturers and a custom indoor positioning system during the viewing of the installation, The Boundary of Life is Quietly Crossed at The Menil Collection, Houston. The exhibition is an artistic, philosophical and scientific exploration of the history of registering emotional experiences through physical recording of the human heart and brain, combined with challenges to the historical associations we tie to each them—confirmation of life and death, emotion, authenticity, creativity, and spirituality.


Team Members:

  • Kimberly Kontson: Postdoctoral Research Associates
  • Jesus Cruz-Garza: PhD Graduate Student
  • Justin Brantley: PhD Graduate Student
  • Sho Nakagome: PhD Graduate Student
  • Murad Megjhani: PhD Graduate Student
  • Dario Robleto:
  • Michelle White: The Menil Collection



Your Brain on Dance


Supported by:
National Science Foundation, # HRD-1008117
National Institutes of Health, # NINDS R01 NS075889.
Laboratorio de Robotica del Noreste y Centro de Mexico, Tecnologico de Monterrey


In this study we used EEG and inertial sensors to record brain activity and movement of five skilled and certified Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) dancers. The expressive movement qualities consisted of a sequence of eight Laban Effort qualities as defined by LMA—a notation system and language for describing, visualizing, interpreting and documenting all varieties of human movement.


This research demonstrates that EEG has valuable information about the expressive qualities of movement. These results may have applications for advancing the understanding of the neural basis of expressive movements and for the development of neuroprosthetics to restore movements.


Team members:
  • Jesus G. Cruz-Garza
  • Zachery R. Hernandez
  • Sargoon Nepaul
  • Karen K. Bradley


Collaborators in grants with links to labs:


Representative Publications
  • Cruz-Garza, J. G., Hernandez, Z. R., Nepaul, S., Bradley, K. K., and Contreras-Vidal, J. L. (2014). Neural decoding of expressive human movement from scalp electroencephalography (EEG). Front. Hum. Neurosci. 8:188. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00188