Evolving emotions: getting a feel for the world

Few things shape what it is to be human as profoundly as our emotions. Though we may feel them deeply, do we really understand their meaning, diversity, and how they help us make sense of our environment?

6-10 PM WET | drinks & snacks






This live event will be in English and will also be transmitted online.

In this special Ar event, as part of the Emotions Brain Forum series celebrating Women in Science, we invite you to take a broad look at emotions with us.

We will explore how emotions help individuals, from insects to humans, relate to the world and get a feel of the state of their surroundings. Marta Moita from the Champalimaud Foundation will speak about the role of emotions in signaling and navigating potential dangers, while Suzanne Oosterwijk, from the Amsterdam Interdisciplinary Center for Emotion, will show that emotions do not drive only avoidance behaviours but also exploration via curiosity. Eva Jablonka, from The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, will address the co-evolution of emotions and language, as well as the evolution of aesthetic and intellectual emotions. In the same register, Valeria Gazzola, from the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, will highlight the function emotions have in regulating social interactions, while Elizabeth Phelps, from Harvard University, will explore the intersection between emotion and memories.

The complex spectrum of emotions will also be expressed from an artistic perspective, including music, dance and visual arts. 

This event will bring together Sofia Dias and Vítor Roriz, dancers and choreographers, who will present a piece that through the use of words, voice and movement will place the audience in the chaotic way of how the mind perceives and connects events, Lula Pena, singer, composer and poet who will guide the public through different emotional landscapes with her music and Tupac Martir and Clo Bougard, artists in residence at the Champalimaud Foundation who will present an interactive installation where the public will be able to performatively and playfully select different emotions to experience.

On May 21st, join us as we will share and experience convergent and divergent perspectives from neuroscience, philosophy and the arts, and celebrate the emotions that shape our lives.

Invited Speakers

Marta Moita

Fear: A Fundamental Emotion

Marta Moita received her PhD from the Gulbenkian in Biology and Medicine and has held research positions at the Center for Neural Sciences of New York University and at Cold Spring Harbour before returning to Lisbon at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência to establish her independent research group in 2007 and become part of the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme. The Moita lab investigates the decision to freeze or flee in response to threatening stimuli, integrating social and environmental contexts as well as the internal state of the animal.

Valeria Gazzola

The empathic brain

Valeria Gazzola studied Biology in Parma, Italy. She received her PhD in the Netherlands. Since 2010 she leads the Mechanisms of Social Behavior group at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam and is an associate professor at the University of Amsterdam. Her work aims at assessing the relationship between brain regions associated with empathy and actual social behavior, investigating the causal relationship between mirror-like activity and pro- and anti- social behavior.

Suzanne Oosterwijk

Morbid Curiosity

Suzanne Oosterwijk received her PhD from the University of Amsterdam. Currently she is an associate professor at the Department of Social Psychology at the University of Amsterdam and a member of the Amsterdam Interdisciplinary Center for Emotions (AICE) and the Amsterdam Brain and Cognition center (ABC). She investigates “morbid curiosity” with a focus on the motives underlying this phenomenon, its representation in the brain and the circumstances in which it occurs. She also investigates how brain networks overlap during intrapersonal and interpersonal emotion processes from an embodied cognition perspective.

Eva Jablonka

The Co-evolution of Emotions and Language

Eva Jablonka is a retired professor in the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, Tel-Aviv University, a member of the Sagol School of Neuroscience, Tel-Aviv, and a Research Associate in the CPNSS (LSE, London University). Her research interests include evolution driven by non-genetic hereditary variations, the evolution of nervous systems and the evolutionary transition to consciousness. She has published numerous books on these topics.

Elizabeth Phelps

Feelings and Memories

Elizabeth Phelps received her PhD from Princeton University and is currently Pershing Square Professor of Human Neuroscience at Harvard University. Professor Phelps is the recipient of the 21st Century Scientist Award from the James S. McDonnell Foundation, the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Social and Affective Neuroscience Society, and the William James Award from the Association for Psychological Science. The primary inspiration behind Professor Phelps’ research is the observation that emotions color our lives, and even subtle, everyday variations in our emotional experience can alter our thoughts and actions.

Invited Artists

Sofia Dias & Vítor Roriz

Um gesto que não passa de uma ameaça (“A gesture that is nothing but a threat”)

Sofia Dias & Vítor Roriz are a duo of independent dancers and choreographers. They began collaborating in 2006 on the research and creation of performances that have since been presented in over 17 countries. Words, voice, sound and objects have become the focus of their research, thus throwing another light on the connection between movement and gesture.


In this performance, Sofia Dias and Vítor Roriz conceive words as bodies that are subjected to the logic of movement composition. Like when we repeat a word until it loses its meaning, this piece seeks to situate the audience in this moment of losing and assigning meaning, of degeneration and transformation, aligning itself with the chaotic way the mind perceives and connects events. To consider a word as a body means dealing with its full potential, it means taking into account not only its meaning, but also its sound plasticity and its relationship with voice, breathing and music.


Lula Pena

Archivo Pittoresco: Recollected emotions in one stream of consciousness

Born and raised in Lisbon, Lula Pena is a Portuguese poet-singer, a mysterious woman who hides behind the guitar to surprise us in the best way. A unique and deep voice, playing with borders and with the nests of poets. Lula’s work is deep commanding, but with a sensitive voice; the natural blend of fado roots with colours of several references as Portuguese folk music, chanson française, Cape Verdean morna and Brazilian bossa nova.


Archivo Pittoresco wonderfully reflects Lula Pena’s inspired wandering: the album’s thirteen tracks often flow seamlessly into one another, as she sings (in Portuguese, French, English, Spanish, Greek, Italian) lyrics and poems by writers ranging from Manos Hadjidakis, Violeta Parra and herself to Belgian surrealist Scutenaire to the composers of the original Twilight Zone soundtrack and to many lesser-known names or anonymous authors.

Tupac Martir & Clo Bourgard

Emotion Map

Tupac Martir is an Artist and Founder of Satore Studio. He’s a multimedia artist whose work spans the fields of technology, lighting, projection and video, sound design, music, and composition, as well as choreography and costumes. He is currently doing an artistic residency at the Champalimaud Foundation.

Clo Bourgard is a visual artist and curator, who works mainly with sculptures and installations. She develops research in the area of materials and resins in her studio in Estoril. During the last 20 years, she took part in more than 50 individual and collective exhibitions, both at national and international level. She is currently doing an artistic residency at the Champalimaud Foundation.


An interactive art installation where the public can performatively select an emotion to “experience”. A set of various performative experiences with sound and light suggested by the two artists will be available for each selected emotion.


Cecilia Mezzera

Cecilia is a data analyst with a PhD in Neuroscience interested in understanding how the mind perceives and integrates the internal and external world.

Adrian Razvan Sandru

Adrian received his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Tübingen and is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Champalimaud Foundation.

Charlotte Rosher

Charlotte is an INPDP PhD student in Neuroscience at the Champalimaud Foundation interested in defensive behaviour. She also likes to combine street art and science outreach.