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.
Introduction: What is Neuroaesthetics? Martin Skov and Oshin Vartanian CHAPTER 2 Neuroaesthetic Problems: A Framework for Neuroaesthetic Research Martin Skov CHAPTER 3 Neuroaesthetics and the Psychology of Aesthetics Thomas Jacobsen CHAPTER 4 The Arts are More than Aesthetics: Neuroaesthetics as Narrow Aesthetics Steven Brown and Ellen Dissanayake CHAPTER 5 Bio-Aesthetics and the Aesthetic Trajectory: A Dynamic Cognitive and Cultural Perspective W. Tecumseh Fitch, Antje von Graevenitz, and Eric Nicolas CHAPTER 6 Constraining Hypotheses on the Evolution of Art and Aesthetic Appreciation Marcos Nadal, Miquel Capo, Enric Munar, Gisele Marty, and Camilo Jose Cela-Conde CHAPTER 7 Prospects for a Neuropsychology of Visual Art Anjan Chatterjee Color Photo Section CHAPTER 8 Brain and Art: Neuro-Clues from Intersection of Disciplines Dahlia W. Zaidel CHAPTER 9 Allusions to Visual Representation Nicholas Wade CHAPTER 10 Musical Sounds in the Human Brain Mari Tervaniemi CHAPTER 11 Neuroaesthetics of Literary Reading David S. Miall CHAPTER 12 Film Aesthetics and the Embodied Brain Torben Grodal CHAPTER 13 Conscious Experience of Pleasure in Art Oshin Vartanian CHAPTER 14 The Origins of Aesthetic Pleasure: Processing Fluency and Affect in Judgment, Body, and the Brain Troy Chenier and Piotr Winkielman Meet the Contributors Contributors Index
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.