Neuroaesthetics: An Introduction to Visual Art

The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, USA, 37383

Neuroaesthetics is the study of how aesthetic perception, production, judgment, appreciation, and emotional response are produced and experienced from a neurobiological basis. While this area of study is relatively new to the field of neuroscience, this review will look at proposed theories behind aesthetic processes in the brain and existing experimental research implicating neural substrates behind these theories. The neurobiological basis of perception and interpretation of visual art is discussed. More specifically, we review the visual system and visual reward, and the evolutionary theory of visual perception. Among several findings of this review are examples of artistic manipulation of the two-stream hypothesis of visual processing. Manipulations of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and nucleus accumbens (NAc) through transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) have been shown to increase aesthetic appreciation. Evolutionary theories rooted in survival are thought to govern the human appreciation for landscape art. While these findings are significant, they are only the beginning for a field with an immeasurable future.

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