Poster Session A, Saturday, March 23, 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm, Pacific Concourse
Neural correlates of aesthetic judgment on Chinese calligraphy and scenery photos in nonreaders of Chinese
Joyce Cheng1, Makayla Chen1, Leo Dong1, Diana Shih1, Denise Wu1; 1National Central University, Taiwan
Our previous neuroimaging research showed that aesthetic judgment performed on Chinese calligraphy and on scenery photos was associated with specific brain activation in the word- and place-related regions, respectively. To determine whether such category-specific results were due to characteristics of the stimuli per se or to life-long experience of reading Chinese characters, we recruited 24 nonreaders of Chinese to perform aesthetic ratings on the same set of Chinese calligraphic characters and scenery photos with different aesthetic values. Behavioral results revealed that foreign participants were sensitive to the manipulation of aesthetics in Chinese calligraphy, though to a lesser degree than to that in scenery photos. Simultaneous functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) recording showed that aesthetic judgment on Chinese calligraphy was associated with higher brain activation in the areas supporting basic visual processing than that on scenery photos, while the reversed contrast was associated with bilateral parahippocampal areas. Critically, the brain activation in the category-selective regions was parametrically modulated by aesthetic ratings performed by individual participants. Replicating our previous findings, the association between the activation of the reward system in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and the perceived aesthetics either in words or in scenes was not significant. The present findings indicate that aesthetics is one fundamental feature that is being processed in the brain regions specific to different stimulus categories. Because foreigners are unfamiliar with Chinese calligraphy, they mainly relied on the brain regions processing basic visual features rather than the visual word-form area to perform aesthetic judgment.
Topic Area: OTHER