Neuroaesthetics / Edition 1 available in Hardcover
- Pub. Date:
- Taylor & Francis
The beginning of psychological aesthetics is normally traced back to the publication of Gustav Theodor Fechner's seminal book "Vorschule der Aesthetik" in 1876. Following in the footsteps of this rich tradition, editors Martin Skov and Oshin Vartanian view neuroaesthetics - the emerging field of inquiry concerned with uncovering the ways in which aesthetic behavior is caused by brain processes - as a natural extension of Fechner's 'empirical spirit' to understand the link between the objective and subjective worlds inherent in aesthetic experience. The editors had two specific aims for this book. The first was to highlight the diversity of approaches that are underway under the banner of neuroaesthetics.Currently, this topic is being investigated from experimental, evolutionary, neuropsychological, and neuroimaging perspectives to tackle problems in the visual arts, literature, music, and film. Its quintessentially interdisciplinary nature has functioned as a breeding ground for generating and testing hypotheses in multiple domains. The second goal was more integrative and involved distilling some of the key features common to these diverse strands of work. The book presents a possible framework for neuroaesthetics by highlighting what the contributors consider to be its defining features and offering a working definition of neuroaesthetics that captures these features. "Neuroaesthetics" will provide an empirical and theoretical framework to motivate further work in this area. Ultimately, the hope is that puzzles in aesthetics can be solved through insights from biology, but that the contribution can be truly bidirectional.
About the Author
Martin Skov was trained in linguistics and literary theory before pursuing a Ph.D. in neuroscience, using functional MRI (fMRI) to investigate the neurobiological underpinnings of aesthetic preference formation. He is currently a research fellow at The Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance at the Copenhagen University Hospital Hvidovre. He is a coeditor of several books, in Danish and English, and, together with a colleague, is writing a book on the relation between preference formation and decision-making.
Oshin Vartanian received his Ph.D. in experimental psychology at the University of Maine, with Dr. Colin Martindale as his supervisor. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cognitive neuroscience under the supervision of Dr. Vinod Goel at York University, in Toronto, and a visiting fellowship under the supervision of Dr. David R. Mandel at DRDC Toronto, where he is currently a Defence Scientist. He studies the neural underpinnings of higher cognitive function, including creativity, reasoning, and decision making, as well as the neural bases of preference formation and aesthetics.
Table of Contents
Introduction: What is Neuroaesthetics?
Martin Skov and Oshin Vartanian
Neuroaesthetic Problems: A Framework for Neuroaesthetic Research
Neuroaesthetics and the Psychology of Aesthetics
The Arts are More than Aesthetics: Neuroaesthetics as Narrow Aesthetics
Steven Brown and Ellen Dissanayake
Bio-Aesthetics and the Aesthetic Trajectory: A Dynamic Cognitive and Cultural Perspective
W. Tecumseh Fitch, Antje von Graevenitz, and Eric Nicolas
Constraining Hypotheses on the Evolution of Art and Aesthetic Appreciation
Marcos Nadal, Miquel Capó, Enric Munar, Gisèle Marty, and Camilo José Cela-Conde
Prospects for a Neuropsychology of Visual Art
Color Photo Section
Brain and Art: Neuro-Clues from Intersection of Disciplines
Dahlia W. Zaidel
Allusions to Visual Representation
Musical Sounds in the Human Brain
Neuroaesthetics of Literary Reading
David S. Miall
Film Aesthetics and the Embodied Brain
Conscious Experience of Pleasure in Art
The Origins of Aesthetic Pleasure: Processing Fluency and Affect in Judgment, Body, and the Brain
Troy Chenier and Piotr Winkielman
Meet the Contributors
What People are Saying About This
Skov and Vartanian have assembled an impressive volume on the rapidly burgeoning field of neuroaesthetics. The contributions cover a broad range of topicsfrom visual art to music, patient studies to neuroimaging approacheswhile providing an exhaustive and deeply considered treatment of each. Being a relatively young field, neuroaesthetic research consists of a manageable body of knowledge surrounded by a vast and compelling array of questions. This book provides readers with a detailed map of the available research findings and sketches out the promising unknown territories in a way that is certain to fascinate and excite. (Raymond A. Mar, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, York University, Toronto)
The field of neuroaesthetics, viewed broadly, is the application of neuroscience to problems in the psychology of art and aesthetics. This definition alone implies that not many people study neuroaesthetics, so the chapters assembled by Martin Skov and Oshin Vartanian, the volume's editors, are all the more impressiveit looks like most of the world's neuroaestheticians provided a chapter. Neuroaesthetics is part of Baywood's Foundations and Frontiers in Aesthetics book series, and the prior series volume, Evolutionary and Neurocognitive Approaches to Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts (Martindale, Locher, & Petrov, 2007; for a review, see Silvia, 2007), is an informal companion volume. Collectively, the two books cover most of what psychology knows about the biological side (broadly defined) of the arts.
Like most edited books, Neuroaesthetics provides a mix of history, theory, research reviews, and applications. For the most part, it's theoretical and speculativeits aim is to shape and motivate future research, and the book meets this aim well. Readers will come away believing that neuroscience affords enormous opportunities for furthering our understanding of aesthetic problems.
Edited books are underrated as a way of bringing attention to hard problems that deserve more attention, and I think Neuroaesthetics could be remembered as a turning point in the psychology of art. Neuroaesthetics is a good read for researchers with a passion for such things. (Paul J. Silvia, PsycCRITIQUES, November 25, 2009, Vol. 54, Release 47, Article 5)
Neuroaesthetics is the most comprehensive picture currently available of a new and rapidly expanding field, bridging the obvious gap between biology and aesthetics by integrating knowledge from multiple disciplines. This book sets the agenda for the consolidation of neuroaesthetics as a fundamental field of inquiry for the 21st century. Neuroaesthetics will be a must on the shelves of all scholars interested in the creation and appreciation of art and aesthetics. (Francisco J. Ayala, University Professor and Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences, University of California, Irvine, Author, Human Evolution: Trails from the Past, Recipient, U.S. National Medal of Science, 2001)