Grey Matter and the Colourful Mind
Janneke van Leeuwen

What our eyes can see is not the same as what our minds perceive. Our brains give meaning to our experiences based on what we know. Neuroscience tends to focus on generalising human brain activity, but at the same time we all experience the world differently. The dress meme demonstrated that even a basic cognitive function such as colour perception is highly variable among people. The arts-based learning method Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) shows how personal relevance and knowledge guide our perceptual meaning making. In this lecture Janneke van Leeuwen will talk about the organisation The Thinking Eye she founded, which brings neuropsychology and the visual arts together in transdisciplinary training and research.

Janneke van Leeuwen received a master’s degree in neuropsychology from VU University and graduated in fine art photography from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. In her artistic practice Van Leeuwen creates photographic mindscapes, which explore the grey area between private and shared experiences. Her work has been published and exhibited internationally amongst others as part of the Musée de l’Elysée’s traveling exhibition reGeneration2: Tomorrow’s Photographers Today. Van Leeuwen is the founder of The Thinking Eye, which focuses on advancing knowledge of the visual arts’ impact on cognitive development, creative thought and social identity. Van Leeuwen holds facilitator and trainer qualifications in the arts-based learning method Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) method and she is the author of the publication ‘Shaping Open Minds’. Van Leeuwen is a member of the Created Out of Mind team, who have been invited to take up the 2016-2018 residency at The Hub at the Wellcome Collection in London. Created Out of Mind: Shaping perceptions of dementia through art and science will support the active connection and collaboration of previously disparate cultures (scientists, artists, commissioners/policymakers) and infuse the insights and skills of people living with dementia, communications professionals and collaboration experts. As part of this residency Van Leeuwen is currently working on her PhD research, in collaboration with the Wellcome Collection, London; the UCL Institute of Neurology, London; and the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam.