Poster B133, Sunday, March 26, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Embodiment and expertise effects on aesthetics judgments
Beatriz Calvo-Merino1, Alexander Jones2, Patrick Haggard3, Bettina Forster1; 1City, University of London, 2Middlesex University, 3University College London
The growing field of Neuroaesthetics addresses the cognitive and neural mechanisms underpinning aesthetic experiences, especially when related to movement perception (performing arts/dance), and how these are shaped by the observer’s experience. In this context, the recent explosion of research investigating the neurocognitive processes for observing bodies and actions of others, and which contribute to empathy, provides an ideal platform for developing a neuroaesthetic account of dance. Recent studies have provided a sensorimotor aesthetic framework that integrates multidimensional layers from neural, behavioral and physiological responses. Here we present data from two related experiments investigating independently the specific neural determinants of aesthetic judgments. Compared to a control visual judgment task, subjects judged biological motion (of dance movements) and body postures (dance postures) during fMRI and EEG, respectively. Our results showed a stronger engagement of somatosensory cortex (SCx), as reflected in the fMRI activations and somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs, EEG) for the aesthetic judgment of biological motion and body postures, suggesting an important mechanism involving SCx and embodiment in relation to aesthetic evaluation of human movement. Importantly, this response had different temporal dynamics (as suggested by the EEG data) in the expert population (professional dancers) as compared to non-experts, suggesting that visual and motor memories shaped by experience influence this highly complex and uniquely human ability for aesthetic experience. Importantly, these results suggest that the effect of expertise goes beyond mere perceptual processing differences but that the aesthetic response is manifested in brain regions linked to embodiment.
Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Vision