Neuroscience, Biology, and Brain Evolution in Visual Art

Dahlia W. Zaidel

in The Aesthetic Mind

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199691517
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731815 | DOI:
Neuroscience, Biology, and Brain Evolution in Visual Art

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Art is a system of human communication arising from symbolic cognition, conveying ideas, experiences, and feelings. The view adopted here is that pictorial representation by artists is influenced by the neurological status of their brain, physiological status of their eyes, biological motivations shared by animals and humans, and by evolutionary adaptive processes expressed uniquely in Homo sapiens. The appearance of art is affected by both sensory and brain systems, and clues can be obtained from damage to either one of these systems. A review of brain-damage effects on artists suggests that artistic talent, skill, and creativity, to say nothing of art-related ideas, are resistant to the damage and are generally diffusely represented in the brain. This is consistent with (1) the view that art is a multi-component system, and (2) with the biological motivation background of art, namely that the display draws on resources not easily associated with localized brain regions. Evolutionary changes have shaped the human brain to be uniquely neuronally “wired-up” to produce art, to interpret it, and to receive pleasure from it. The perspective adopted here is that the neural basis of pictorial art is a multi-regional brain function.

Keywords: brain pathology; pictorial art; artistic skill; biology; neuropsychology

Chapter.  4602 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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