PsychEng Seminar: Exploring the neural basis of design: a product designer’s experience with fMRI with Dr. Laura Hay, University of Strathclyde

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Exploring the neural basis of design: a product designer’s experience with fMRI
Dr. Laura Hay, University of Strathclyde

Abstract: Cognitive neuroscientists and psychologists have studied creativity for decades, applying a variety of techniques to unpick the cognitive and neural processing involved in this fundamental human ability. This work has historically focused on creativity in the general population, but recently there has been increasing interest in the brains of creative professionals. Neuroimaging techniques have caught the attention of the design research community, where there is a steadily growing body of EEG, fMRI, and fNIRS studies on product designers, engineering designers, and architects. Design researchers are interested in theoretical questions that are also of interest to neuroscientists and psychologists – for instance, are there any differences in the brain networks engaged during creative design tasks vs general creative thinking tasks? However, they are also driven by questions about how neuroimaging research can be applied to improve design practice – for example, through the development of new design tools based on emerging neurotechnologies. These questions open up exciting opportunities for collaboration between design researchers, cognitive neuroscientists, and psychologists – and these opportunities are accompanied by many significant, but equally as exciting, challenges to be overcome.

Dr Laura Hay is a product designer by training, and now studies the minds and brains of professional product designers using psychological and neuroimaging techniques. In this seminar, she will share her experiences applying fMRI to study the neural basis of creative design as part of a multidisciplinary team. Reviewing the results from her team’s recent fMRI studies, she will discuss what fMRI can tell us about the designing brain, and how this research can benefit professional designers and practice. Having collaborated with both design researchers and cognitive scientists, she will also reflect on some key challenges and lessons for cognitive design scientists starting out in the area.

Biography: Dr Laura Hay is currently a Lecturer in Product Design in the Department of Design, Manufacturing and Engineering Management at the University of Strathclyde. She previously obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Product Design Engineering and a PhD in sustainable engineering design from Strathclyde, before spending three years as a postdoctoral design researcher. Her main research interests are design cognition and neurocognition, design creativity, and sustainability. Her current research investigates the cognitive and neural basis of conceptual product design, as part of a long term vision focused on integrating the imagination with technology to provide more effective and intuitive tools for designers. She initiated and leads an international Special Interest Group on Cognitive Design Science within the Design Society, and is on the editorial board of the International Journal of Design Creativity and Innovation. She teaches user-centred design, emotional design, form and aesthetics, and systems thinking to undergraduate and postgraduate product design students.

For Zoom meeting information, please register using the below link:


© 2024 Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering