The Program in Museums and Society, Department of Neuroscience, and Sheridan Libraries at The Johns Hopkins University announce the opening of Please Touch: An Interactive Study on the Neurological Mechanisms of Tactile Aesthetics in the quad-level lobby of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library on the Homewood campus. Curated by Hannah Weinberg-Wolf, a senior in the David S. Olton Program in Behavioral Biology, this exhibition introduces visitors to the neuroaesthetics of touch and aims to gather useful data from participants.
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At the “Touch and the Enjoyment of Sculpture: Exploring the Appeal of Renaissance Statuettes” exhibition — an exhibition at the Walters Art Museum through April 15 – visitors are invited to disregard the usual rule against touching. In fact, handling the objects d’arts – which include replicas of famous 16th century statuettes that are part of the Walters’ collection – is one of the reasons behind the exhibition, explains neuroscientist Steven Hsiao of the Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute, which is partnering with the Walters on this show – the fourth in a series of projects between the museum and Johns Hopkins.
Back in 1980 when The Empire Strikes Back hit the big screen, it seemed like the most fantastic of science fiction scenarios: Luke Skywalker getting a fully functional bionic arm to replace the one he had lost to arch enemy Darth Vader. Thirty years later, such a device is more the stuff of fact and less of fiction, as increasingly sophisticated artificial limbs are being developed that allow users a startlingly life-like range of motion and fine motor control. Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Steven Hsiao, however, isn’t satisfied that a prosthetic limb simply allows its user to move. He wants to provide the user the ability to feel what the artificial limb is touching, such as the texture and shape of a quarter, or the comforting perception of holding hands. Accomplishing these goals requires understanding how the brain processes the multitude of sensations that come in daily through our fingers and hands.