Giovanni Frazzetto received his undergraduate education in Molecular Biology at University College London. He then carried out his PhD at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany which he completed in 2003. He was a ‘Society in Science-Branco Weiss Fellow’ from 2004 to 2009 at the London School of Economics and at EMBL. His transdisciplinary research research focuses on behavioral neuroscience and on its societal and cultural implications. He is a founding member of the European Neuroscience and Society Network, a five year programme involving leading neuroscientists and social scientists from eleven European countries in collaborative research and debate on salient societal issues related to neuroscience.

Giovanni is also founder of ‘neuroculture’, for the exchange of cultural projects at the intersection between neuroscience, the arts and the humanities. In 2007 he spent a fellowship at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. He is the 2008 joint-recipient of the John Kendrew Young Scientist Award. A passionate reader, he enjoys writing poems, stories and learning foreign languages.

Life and the Brain:
What neuroscience can and cannot
tell us about living

ICI Project 2009-11

Today, neuroscience findings increasingly offer explanations to understand the world and make sense of significant, often personal, domains of human experience. However, on a daily basis, we live by concepts, observations and strategies which find their origins in the laboratory, as well as in other disciplines, cultural practices and commonsensical wisdom which are equally authoritative in providing meaning for our existence.

From the way we deal with anxiety and depression, to how we fall in love, take decisions, enjoy a theatre performance or decide what to cook, knowledge about the brain can side with common sense judgments and strategies, but it can also be resisted in favour of inspiring words and images from the arts, the humanities and human experience with the power of resonating loudly and more lastingly with anyone in search for models to identify with. Until neuroscience has solved all the questions, two or more understandings of the same phenomenon will always co-exist with none of them being more or less meaningful, enchanting or explanatory than the other. Ultimately, it is possible to be at once scientific and lyrical about oneself when regarding the world.