Syntax/Synapse: "How We Create" with Meghan Meyer, Lydia Millet, and Jeffery Renard Allen

Monday October 16, 2017
07:00 pm

Tags: Event


To kick off our Syntax/Synapse series, Meghan Meyer of the Dartmouth Social Neuroscience Lab discussed research done at Princeton on the neural basis of imagination. Meyer was joined by Lydia Millet (Sweet Lamb of Heaven) and Jeffery Renard Allen (Song of the Shank), who participated in the study. They discussed their experience taking part, and their understanding of how creative processes align with neuroscience.


Syntax/Synapse is a series of programs and essays exploring the intersections between literature and neuroscience, presented in partnership with the Princeton Social Neuroscience Lab and YHouse. Syntax/Synapse is generously funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.



Meghan L. Meyer is an Assistant Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) and her post-doctoral training at Princeton University. Her research integrates social and cognitive neuroscience to understand what drives our tendency, ability, and need to think about the social world around us. More recently, she has been examining whether storytelling skills are driven, in part, by the same brain mechanisms that underpin human social cognition.


Lydia Millet is an American novelist and conservationist. She is author of eleven novels, including Sweet Lamb of Heaven, Magnificence, Love in Infant Monkeys and Everyone’s Pretty. Her third novel, My Happy Life, won the 2003 PEN Center USA Award for Fiction, and she has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize as well as a Guggenheim fellow, among other honors. Millet has written books and stories that range from the philosophical to the satirical, on matters including the inventors of the atom bomb, political culture under George H.W. Bush, the discovery of mermaids in a coral reef and the crises of extinction and climate change. She lives in the desert outside Tucson, Arizona with her two children and works for the Center for Biological Diversity.

Jeffery Renard Allen is the author of five books including the novels Song of the Shank, which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and Rails Under My Back, which won the Chicago Tribune's Heartland Prize for Fiction; the short story collection Holding Pattern, which received The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence; and two collections of poetry. He is a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Virginia.