Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Is The Beauty Of A Sculpture In The Brain Of The Beholder?

Date:
November 24, 2007
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Is there an objective biological basis for the experience of beauty in art? Or is aesthetic experience entirely subjective? New research uses fMRI scans to study the neural activity in subjects with no knowledge of art criticism, who were shown images of Classical and Renaissance sculptures.

Brain activations in the contrasts "judged-as-beautiful vs. judged-as-ugly" and "judged-as-ugly vs. judged-as-beautiful" stimuli. Statistical parametric maps rendered onto the MNI brain template showing activity within left somatomotor cortex in the contrast of ugly vs. beautiful stimuli averaged across the three conditions.
Credit: Di Dio C, Macaluso E, Rizzolatti G,Image courtesy of PLoS One

Is there an objective biological basis for the experience of beauty in art? Or is aesthetic experience entirely subjective? This question has been addressed in a new article by Cinzia Di Dio, Emiliano Macaluso and Giacomo Rizzolatti. The researchers used fMRI scans to study the neural activity in subjects with no knowledge of art criticism, who were shown images of Classical and Renaissance sculptures.

Related Articles


The 'objective' perspective was examined by contrasting images of Classical and Renaissance sculptures of canonical proportions, with images of the same sculptures whose proportions were altered to create a comparable degraded aesthetic value. In terms of brain activations, this comparison showed that the presence of the "golden ratio" in the original material activated specific sets of cortical neurons as well as (crucially) the insula, a structure mediating emotions. This response was particularly apparent when participants were only required to observe the stimuli; that is, when the brain reacted most spontaneously to the images presented.

The 'subjective' perspective was evaluated by contrasting beautiful vs. ugly sculptures, this time as judged by each participant who decided whether or not the sculpture was aesthetic. The images judged to be beautiful selectively activated the right amygdala, a structure that responds tolearned incoming information laden with emotional value.

These results indicate that, in observers naοve to art criticism, the sense of beauty is mediated by two non-mutually exclusive processes: one is based on a joint activation of sets of cortical neurons, triggered by parameters intrinsic to the stimuli, and the insula (objective beauty); the other is based on the activation of the amygdala, driven by one's own emotional experiences (subjective beauty). The researchers conclude that both objective and subjective factors intervene in determining our appreciation of an artwork.

The history of art is replete with the constant tension between objective values and subjective judgments. This tension is deepened when artists discover new aesthetic parameters that may appeal for various reasons, be they related to our biological heritage, or simply to fashion or novelty. Still, the central question remains: when the fashion and novelty expire, could their work ever become a permanent patrimony of humankind without a resonance induced by some biologically inherent parameters?

Citation: Di Dio C, Macaluso E, Rizzolatti G (2007) The Golden Beauty: Brain Response to Classical and Renaissance Sculptures. PLoS One 2(11): e1201. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001201


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Is The Beauty Of A Sculpture In The Brain Of The Beholder?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071120201928.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2007, November 24). Is The Beauty Of A Sculpture In The Brain Of The Beholder?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071120201928.htm
Public Library of Science. "Is The Beauty Of A Sculpture In The Brain Of The Beholder?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071120201928.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins