Brain response to beauty: neuroaesthetics and its characteristic features

For each person, the word beauty has its own, individual meaning. We evaluate the beautiful according to our own, clearly formulated criteria. Are there generally accepted, common to all people, parameters for measuring the beauty and aesthetics of what is in front of us? What reactions occur in the brain when we look at an object that visually attracts us? These questions have been of concern to scientists for many years. That is why the science of neuroaesthetics appeared , which allows us to study the reactions of our brain at that moment, we see truly beautiful things.

The concept of neuroaesthetics

The concept of the term has its origins in the 1990s, when Semir Zeki, a professor at London College, and a friend actively engaged in research in this area. The very concept of neuroaesthetics studies the characteristic features of our brain’s response to beauty. The industry is closely related to cognitive psychology and neuroscience.

Zeki and his friend put forward the theory that our consciousness is able to separate and identify artistic images on the same principle as a visual analyzer scans images that enter the retina of the eyeball, separating them according to various characteristic properties: color, brightness, display speed.

Colleagues conducted more than a hundred different studies, as a result of which they managed to find out one interesting feature. When listening to pleasant, inspiring music, the brain activates the same areas as when perceiving the image of an attractive person. It was this moment that influenced the increase in interest among scientists in this phenomenon.

Animal Experiments

Attempts to find out how beauty affects the brain began long before the experiments of Zeki and his friend. Seeger Watanabe , who was studying the behavioral reactions of animals, made a series of observations on pigeons and proved their ability to perceive beauty.

During one of the experiments, the birds were shown works of art by masters of painting, as well as a variety of works of ordinary people. If the animals saw images that were already familiar to them, they showed the ability to distinguish pictures from each other.

After such an interesting discovery, Watanabe decided to find out if pigeons could evaluate works of art according to the same criteria as humans. To do this, he divided the concept of beauty into two aspects: images that cause aesthetic pleasure and those that contribute to the emergence of negative emotions. A negative reaction could be caused by a poorly drawn picture, an unharmonious work technique, and other aspects that affect perception.

After a series of sessions, the scientist became convinced that birds are able to distinguish the beautiful from the ugly. Unfortunately, his works were underestimated and even ridiculed. He even received the so-called Shnobel Prize, which highlighted his research as something awkward and useless. Only many years later, his discovery was remembered and appreciated.

Features of perception

Today, neuroaesthetics is actively studied by specialists in various fields. The difficulty lies in the fact that each nation has its own understanding of beauty, this is influenced by cultural heritage and biologically determined factors. For example, people of the Muslim faith will perceive the mosque as a symbol of beauty, in contrast to the Catholic church. But the image of a beautiful child or woman for representatives of many cultures will look aesthetically attractive.

science of neuroaesthetics studies the generally accepted laws by which the human brain processes the received images and by what criteria it evaluates them. The versatility of human perception makes this industry even more interesting and extraordinary for general study.

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