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Eduardo Macagno


Over the past several years, I have been involved in the creation of a new interdisciplinary area, the nexus of Architecture and Neuroscience. The goal of this novel collaboration is to bring the increasing knowledge about human brain function and behavior to bear on the design of the built environment as created by architects and builders. Humans spend most of their lives in a built environment, either within buildings designed for a variety of purposes, such as schools, healthcare facilities, prisons, family homes or apartments in large buildings, or outdoors in urban environments often designed for the car or other means of transportation, not for the health and well-being of the individual. In recent years, there is an increasing focus on the design and construction of human spaces that improve physical and mental health of their users; but do they succeed? Through several collaborations with colleagues at UCSD, the Salk Institute and the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture, we are using detailed behavioral analyses and biomonitoring using wearable physiological and neurological devices (such as eye-tracking, ECG and EEG) to assay human responses to the built environment, in particular, as the subjects attempt to navigate through a complex building. This project has exciting practical ramifications, for example, in providing evidence for the design of better healthcare and educational facilities, as well as testing therapies for improving the status of humans with neural impairments.

Select Publications

  • Visual neuroscience for architecture: Seeking a new evidence-based approach to design. Albright TD, Gepshtein S, Macagno E. Architectural Design, 90(6), 110–117 (2020)
  • Individual differences in level of wisdom are associated with brain activation during a moral decision-making task. Thomas ML, Martin AS, Eyler L, Lee EE, Macagno E, Devereaux M, Chiong W, Jeste DV. Brain Behav.: e01302 (2019).
  • Wayfinding and Glaucoma: A Virtual Reality Experiment. Daga FB, Macagno E, Stevenson C, Elhosseiny A, Diniz-Filho A, Boer ER, Schulze J, Medeiros FA. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 58(9):3343-3349. (2017) PMID: 28687845
  • Innovations in Architectural Education: Immersive environments for evaluating spatial cognition. Edelstein E, Hamilton T, Zhang L, Schulze J, Macagno ER. ( (2012)
  • Spatial Cognition and Architectural Design in 4D Immersive Virtual Reality: Testing Cognition with a Novel Audiovisual CAVE-CAD Tool. Zhang L, Gossmann J, Stevenson C, Chi M, Cauwenberghs G, Gramann K, Schulze J, Otto P, Jung TP, Peterson R, Edelstein E, Macagno ER. (http://www.sfbtr8.spatial (2012)
  • Form Follows Function: Bridging Neuroscience and Architecture. Edelstein EA, Macagno E. In: Sustainable Environmental Design in Architecture: Impacts on Health, S. Rassia and P.M. Pardalos, Editors, Springer Optimization and Its Applications, Volume 56, pp. 27-41 (2011).


Eduardo Macagno received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1968. He was on the faculty of Columbia from 1973 to 2000. From 1993 to 2000 he served as Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia. He joined the faculty of the UCSD Division of Biological Sciences as Founding Dean in 2001. An early recipient of a Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award for his studies of neural development in simple systems, he was until 2020 the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Developmental Neurobiology. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a past President of the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture.

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