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Fellows Directory

Semir Zeki

Semir Zeki

Professor Semir Zeki FMedSci FRS


Elected: 1990


Semir Zeki is a neuroscientist whose early work on the visual cortex showed how the brain processes features such as colour and movement through distinct brain areas. His interest in art and vision has led him to explore the brain mechanisms underlying human responses to beauty, a field for which he coined the term ‘neuroesthetics’.


Semir used electrophysiology and brain imaging to show that there is no ‘final common path’ for visual experience: the brain processes different types of visual information separately in time and space. Through psychophysical studies, he discovered that we become aware of colour a fraction of a second before form or movement.


He has established the Institute of Neuroesthetics, with the aim of developing mutually fruitful interactions between artists and neuroscientists. Semir has delivered numerous public lectures on art and neuroscience, and his books include Inner Vision: An Exploration of Art and the Brain (1999).

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Anatomy, physiology and neurosciences
    • Animal (especially mammalian) and human physiology and anatomy (non-clinical)
  • Health and human sciences
    • Clinical neuroscience
  • Other
    • Public understanding of science


  • Ferrier Medal and Lecture

    On 'Behind the scene: an exploration of the visual brain'.

  • Humphry Davy and Claude Bernard Lectures

    On 'L'art et le cerveau visuel'.

  • King Faisal International Prize

    In the field of biology.

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