The Psychology of Art and the Evolution of the ConsciousBrain

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How did the human brain evolve so that art and an appreciation of art could develop? In The Psychology of Art and the Evolution of the Conscious Brain, Robert Solso describes how a consciousness that evolved for other purposes perceives and creates art.

Drawing on his earlier book Cognition and the Visual Arts and ten years of new findings in cognitive research (as well as new ideas in anthropology and art history), Solso shows that consciousness developed gradually, with distinct components that evolved over time. One of these components is an adaptive consciousness that includes the ability to imagine objects that are not present-an ability that allows us to create (and perceive) visual art.

Solso describes the neurological, perceptual, and cognitive sequence that occurs when we view art, and the often inexpressible effect that a work of art has on us. He shows that there are two aspects to viewing art: nativistic perception-the synchronicity of eye and brain that transforms electromagnetic energy into neurochemical codes-which is "hard-wired" into the sensory-cognitive system; and directed perception, which incorporates personal history and knowledge-the entire set of our expectations and past experiences. Both forms of perception are part of the appreciation of art, and both are products of the evolution of the conscious brain over hundreds of thousands of years. The many works of art used as examples are drawn from a wide range of artistic traditions, from ancient Egypt to Africa and India and the European Renaissance.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Fun to read and encyclopedic in its range, the book should be of interest to scholars in many disciplines." V. S. Ramachandran Science
Science - V. S. Ramachandran
Fun to read and encyclopedic in its range, the book should be of interest to scholars in many disciplines.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262194846
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2003
  • Series: Bradford Books Series
  • Pages: 294
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert L. Solso is Professor and Head of the Cognitive Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno.

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Table of Contents

Series Foreword
Introduction: Art ... a Tutorial 1
1 Art and the Rise of Consciousness 15
2 Art and Evolution 39
3 Art and Vision 73
4 Art and the Brain 107
5 About Face 133
6 Illusions: Sensory, Cognitive, and Artistic 169
7 Perspective: The Art of Illusion 197
8 Art and Schemata 223
Notes 261
References 265
Index 273
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2004

    A Thoughful Approach to Art and Psychology

    This is a highly original and thoughtful approach to art in which a leading cognitive psychologist adds a fresh look at art and the evolution of the brain. It is very readable and reflects considerable intellectual polish although, at times, I had to read some passages several times to get the meaning. It is rich in detail. Perhaps the most interesting section to me(although I have to say that all sections were pretty interesting) was the part that asserted that prehistoric art (as well as current art) was a manifestation of the brain's capacity to image and represent non-present objects. As such art is seen as a significant intellectual step which lead to civilization as we now know it. Overall, this is a significant, readable book which will be an important part of how we see art and the evolution of the brain.

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