Poster Session D, Monday, March 25, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Neuroaesthetics: the emerging neuroscience of the nexus of art and philosophy, with implications for the economics of the visual arts
Martin Goldstein1, Kelly Adams, Jonsara Ruth2; 1Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, 2Parsons School of Design
Background: The trans-disciplinary field of neuroaesthetics has developed over the past decade, ambitiously attempting to bridge contemporary neuroscience and aesthetics. Efforts have focused on identifying neural mechanisms mediating the perception of fundamental features timelessly defining aesthetic value across artistic modalities. Potential import of neuroaesthetic studies is profound and impactful, with implications ranging from informing the neural underpinnings of aesthetics to the market valuation of art. For the purpose of this study, we focus on the neuroaesthetics of visual fine art. Methods: To inform paradigm development advancing this nascent field, we performed a metanalysis of reported data via searching the National Library of Medicine using the term “neuroaesthetics”. We then limited this search to solely visual-modality fine arts. Results: Ninety-three citations were initially identified. Restriction to visual modality-only yielded a subset of 33 publications. Of these, only 9 citations represented original empirical investigations. These studies range across functional neuroimaging, neuromodulatory, and neuroendocrinologic methodologies. Metanalysis of these studies suggests a prefrontal, parietal, occipital neural network activated by complexly-layered cognitive-visual-emotional processes recruited during evaluation of visual art. Discussion: Neuroaesthetics is indeed a new field, with reports only first appearing in 2008. Neuroaesthetics’ nascency is owing to the complexity of both the phenomenology of aesthetic experience and the challenge of probing its neural substrates. While a visual-evaluative neural network has been tentatively identified, significant theoretical development and methodologic refinement is required to meaningfully advance neuroaesthetics, including its application to determining socio-historical-independent features of visual art which inform sustainable artistic value.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotional responding