From unexpected partnerships, new synergies emerge. This is the focus for two new projects funded under the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)’s Science in Culture theme.  The theme aims to support the development of reciprocal interactions between the arts and humanities and the sciences, leading to new ways of working, new research questions and topics with the potential to transform participating disciplines.

The Science in Culture Research Grants are outstandingly novel in terms of ambition and scope. They develop the relationships between the sciences and the arts and humanities in an innovative way and encourage significant disciplinary exchange.

Sense of agency and responsibility: integrating legal and neurocognitive accounts led by Professor Patrick Haggard, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London awarded £172,357.

Our legal systems generally view individuals as having control over their actions. Yet, expanding scientific knowledge suggests that an individual’s actions are the result of brain processes that are independent of consciousness. This tension has great implications for criminal law as well as our understanding of ourselves. The study will include experiments which assess agency and interdisciplinary work with neuroscientists, legal experts, and philosophers.

Rethinking mind and meaning: A case study from a co-disciplinary approach led by Dr Juan-Carlos Gomez, School of Psychology and Neuroscience at University of St Andrews awarded £197,041.

Understanding thought and communication in animals and non-verbal human infants perplexes linguists, philosophers, psychologists and biologists. This project will bring together these researchers to consider how we might progress our understanding of what thought is, the distinctions between human and animal minds, and the relation between thinking and communicating about unobservable things. The project will include experiments and work with the Living Links Centre at Edinburgh Zoo to engage with school children and the public.

Theme Leadership Fellow for Science in Culture Professor Barry Smith said: “These two projects will add to the diversity of research currently on-going under the Science in Culture theme. The projects reflect in different ways on human nature, the workings of the mind, and the nature of our world. They will both potentially transform understanding of their subjects and develop new models of collaboration”.

For further information contact Alex Pryce (AHRC) on 01793 41 6025 or

Notes to editors

  • The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. For further information on the AHRC, please go to:
  • Find out more about the AHRC’s Science in Culture theme: