Craig Stark, University of California at Irvine

Giovanni Frazzetto, Institute for Advanced Studies, Berlin

Friday, 28 March 2014 at 14:00 in the Large Operon, EMBL Heidelberg

Giovanni Frazzetto, Institute for Advanced Studies, Berlin

What neuroscience can and can't tell us about our emotions


Is neuroscience better than philosophy to cope with anxiety in the face of the world’s economic crisis? What can a brain scan or a Caravaggio painting reveal about the deep seat of guilt? Can ancient remedies fight sadness more effectively than anti-depressants? What do poetry and joy have in common? And how can experiments in mice teach us how to find a partner? We live at a time when neuroscience is unlocking the secrets of our emotions. But can the neural script of the brain indeed tell us how we feel? By mixing scientific knowledge with stories, I will offer a journey through our most commons emotions showing how it is possible to be at once scientific and poetic when we try to understand ourselves and how we live.


Giovanni Frazzetto was born and grew up in Sicily. In 1995, after high school, he moved to the UK to study science at University College London and in 2002 he received a PhD from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg.

Since he was a student he has worked and written on the relationship between science, society and culture, publishing in journals such as EMBOreports and Nature. He was a member of the EMBL Science & Society Committee from 1999 to 2002 and responsible for Science & Society at EMBL Monterotondo from 2004 to 2009.

Giovanni was one of the founders of the European Neuroscience & Society Network and the creator of the transdisciplinary Neuroschools. He has also written short stories and curated science-inspired art exhibitions. As a playwright, Giovanni has created two plays exploring how scientific material can become a tractable subject for theatre: Fear in Search of A Reason (2011) on anxiety and Never Mind, about the Capgras delusion, which premiered at the Sophiensaele Theatre in Berlin in January 2012.

For his transdisciplinary efforts he was awarded the 2008 John Kendrew Young Scientist Award. 

Giovanni now lives between London and Berlin where he works at the Institute for Advanced Study. His first book How We Feel - What Neuroscience Can and Can't tell us about our emotions was published in August 2013 and translated in 11 languages.