Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Digital Humanities & Literary Cognition Lab
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The Digital Humanities and Literary Cognition (DHLC) lab is an interdisciplinary center for research, teaching, and learning that provides a space for collaborative and creative projects in fields such as literary neuroscience, the history mind, and digital humanities.

We have three ongoing projects currently underway, each focusing on a different kind of literature or art form:

  • Jane Austen and the Neuroscience of Reading and Attention

  • Neuroaesthetics: Poetry and Aesthetic Pleasure

  • Collaborative Research: The Role of Narrative in Music Perception

Our goal in all projects is to create an open environment for bringing together literary, historical, and scientific work on the mind, as well as for using digital technologies to provide a richer picture of the complexity involved in our brain's engagement with reading, music, and aesthetics.Our three projects are broken down into three research teams that often work together on multiple projects.

Brain Data Group

The Brain Data group’s primary goal is to analyze neuroimaging data (fMRI) to discover neural mechanisms such as networks and regions controlling processes, in order to compare results to current models. We use FSL (a software tool used to analyze fMRI data), R (a coding based statistics tool), SPSS (a psychology statistical analysis tool) and MATLAB (a powerful coding program that can be used to run models or create stimulus designs) to accomplish these goals. Generally, experiments start as behavioral investigations and then are transitioned to a neuroimaging study. One of our jobs is to assist in the transition of behavioral studies to the neuroimaging stage to make sure the study fits the parameters needed to be sent to a scanner. After the experiment is said and done, we then used the tools described above to draw conclusions from the study. The Brain Data Group is currently focused on analyzing fMRI results for the Jane Austen study and preparing for the fMRI portion of the Neuroaesthetics study. 

Poetry Group

The Poetry Group focuses mainly on the Neuroaesthetics project and are working on analyzing data from our behavioral study with sonnets and collaborating with the Brain Data Group to develop an fMRI stimulus and experimental design. After we run the fMRI study, this group will be responsible for analyzing the resulting data on aesthetic pleasure and displeasure responses.

Music Narrative Group

The Music Narrative Group is our newest addition to the lab that grew out of the “Essay Narrative Group” from when we were working on analyzing the essays from the Jane Austen project. Now, this group focuses on the NSF funded project about the role of narrative in music perception. The Music Narrative Group is currently focused on analyzing behavioral data from three pilot studies conducted both at the University of Arkansas and here at MSU. With the new NSF grant beginning in August 2017, this group will be designing and executing new studies in collaboration with MSU Department of Psychology, the University of Arkansas, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

For more information on each of these groups and projects, check out our project pages and our poster presentation archive (coming soon).