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In the 1950s, John E. Arnold a Psychologist and Engineer started the Design Division at Stanford. This intersection between Psychology and Design has since evolved into Design Thinking, a practical approach to innovation. Our research investigates design activities and related thinking from various perspectives, including neuroscience, embodied cognition, phenomenological, Gestalt, and other perspectives. 




Stanford University appointed John E. Arnold as a full professor in Mechanical Engineering and Business Management. Arnold was a psychologist and engineer, bringing together creativity and design practices. He founded the Stanford Design Division (today Design Group). John Arnold brought the intersection of psychology and design to the Stanford Design practices at the very beginning. 


Larry Leifer investigated in his Ph.D. the intersection of Neurology and Design Research. Ph.D. thesis: Characterization of single muscle fiber discharge during voluntary isometric contraction of the biceps brachii muscle in man. Larry Leifer was one of the first researchers at the intersection of Design and Neuro at Stanford. 


Robert H. McKim and James L. Adams published the books Experience in Visual Thinking and Conceptual Blockbusting (5th edition). Both books are practical and experiential books about thinking in design. Bob McKim and Jim Adams developed several practical approaches to creative and visual thinking in design. Many of these ideas are part of today's Design Thinking. 


Larry Leifer establishes the Center for Design Research together with Mark Cutkosky and Sheri Sheppard. 


David Kelley, Bernie Roth, and several other faculty members created the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (dschool). A global leading institute in the practices and education in Design Thinking and Human-centered Design.  


The work by Manish Saggar (Brain Dynamics Lab) and Allan Reiss (CIBSR) funded and supported by the Hasso Plattner Design Thinking Research program at Stanford. Manish and Allan partnered with Grace Hawthorne, Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (dschool) to investigate creativity in Design Thinking classes. This work inspired Larry Leifer (CDR) to establish the pan-disciplinary program in the intersection of Neuroscience and Design Research, and incorporating prior research of social and experimental psychology in design. 


Start of the NeuroDesign Research initiative.