Poster A111, Saturday, March 25, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Neural correlates of aesthetic ratings of calligraphic characters and scenery photos in experts and novices of Chinese calligraphy.
Denise H. Wu1, Makayla S. Chen1, Teresa K. Pegors2, Daisy L. Hung1,3, Ovid J.-L. Tzeng3,4; 1National Central University, Taiwan, 2Azusa Pacific University, USA, 3Taipei Medical University, Taiwan, 4National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan
Human’s ability to appreciate beauty might have evolutionary value. Previous research showed that ratings of attractiveness in faces and places are associated with activation in brain regions supporting the specific processing of these stimulus categories as well as in the common reward system in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). To explore the neural underpinnings of aesthetic processing of cultural artifacts rather than natural kinds, calligraphic Chinese characters with different degrees of beauty were employed. Experts and novices of Chinese calligraphy made aesthetic judgments on calligraphic characters and scenery photos while their brains were scanned simultaneously by fMRI. It was found that the activations in the left ventral occipital-temporal cortex (aka VWFA) were associated with the processing of and the perceived beauty in words. Interestingly, the association seemed to be stronger in novices than in experts of Chinese calligraphy. On the other hand, the activations in the parahippocampal place area (PPA) and in the middle occipital place area were associated with the processing of and the perceived beauty in scenes. In comparison, the association between the activations in the vmPFC and the perceived beauty either in words or in scenes was less robust. The present findings indicate that beauty is one fundamental characteristic of both cultural and natural kinds that is encoded in the brain, and support previous literature suggesting that encoding of beauty does not just take place within a common reward network, but can also be found in visual cortices associated with that category.
Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Vision