Activation of the prefrontal cortex in the human visual aesthetic perception

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Publication Details

Author list: Maestu F
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
Publication year: 2004
Volume number: 101
Issue number: 16
Start page: 6321
End page: 6325
Number of pages: 5
ISSN: 0027-8424
Languages: English-Great Britain (EN-GB)


Visual aesthetic perception ("aesthetics") or the capacity to visually
perceive a particular attribute added to other features of objects, such
as form, color, and movement, was fixed during human evolutionary
lineage as a trait not shared with any great ape. Although prefrontal
brain expansion is mentioned as responsible for the appearance of such
human trait, no current knowledge exists on the role of prefrontal areas
in the aesthetic perception. The visual brain consists of "several
parallel multistage processing systems, each specialized in a given task
such as, color or motion" [Bartels, A. & Zeki, S. (1999) Proc. R.
Soc. London Ser. B 265, 2327-2332]. Here we report the results of an
experiment carried out with magnetoencephalography which shows that the
prefrontal area is selectively activated in humans during the perception
of objects qualified as "beautiful" by the participants. Therefore,
aesthetics can be hypothetically considered as an attribute perceived by
means of a particular brain processing system, in which the prefrontal
cortex seems to play a key role.


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Last updated on 2019-13-08 at 00:45