Chapter

Neuroaesthetics

Anjan Chatterjee

in Aesthetic Science

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199732142
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918485 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199732142.003.0066
Neuroaesthetics

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Neuroaesthetics is a new field, which is gaining momentum. At this stage of its development, different kinds of writings are regarded as neuroaesthetics. The earliest forays into neuroaesthetics involved descriptions of parallel organizational principles of the brain and the intent and practices of artists. Other writings consist of informative anecdotes that relate the brain to art and beauty. Such anecdotes are often of clinical patient artists in whom neurological diseases offer a window into the brain regions involved in artistic production. Finally, are writings that might be regarded as experimental neuroaesthetics. Experimental aesthetics is motivated by theory, often informed by evolutionary biology, and seeks to rigorously test hypotheses. Currently patient work and functional brain imaging methods are being used to address hypotheses about the neural response to beauty and to artwork. After reviewing the current state of neuroaesthetics, I raise challenges for the field as it moves forward. Investigators need to be wary of the risks of reduction, be clear about what is being probed by their experiments, and ask the question of what neuroscience adds to our understanding of aesthetics that cannot be derived by behavioral studies alone.

Keywords: aesthetics; neuroaesthetics; experimental aesthetics; brain; beauty; artwork; evolution; fMRI; behavioral studies

Chapter.  8598 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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