How the Brain Appreciates Art

Neuroaesthetics has adopted this distinction between art and non-art objects by seeking to identify brain areas that specifically mediate on the aesthetic appreciation of artworks.

What's the Latest Development?


Scientists have found that the area of the brain activated by viewing works of art, which were associated with positive emotions, is the same area involved in the processing of negative emotions like disgust and pain. This is because "the nature of this appraisal depends very strongly on what one's current physiological state is. The sight of chocolate cake will lead to positive aesthetic emotions if I'm famished but to feelings of disgust if I'm sick to my stomach." So evaluating a work of art also entails evaluating how one feels at the time of viewing. 

What's the Big Idea?

Philosophers have long spoken of aesthetic appreciation as though it were a distinct faculty of the mind. On a certain level, it seems reasonable that we do not look at a burrito the same way we look at a Vermeer painting. But neuroimaging devices show that our approval or disapproval of something is processed by the same part of the brain. "The most reasonable evolutionary hypothesis is that the aesthetic system of the brain evolved first for the appraisal of objects of biological importance, including food sources and suitable mates, and was later co-opted for artworks such as paintings and music."

NYTimes exposé reveals how Facebook handled scandals

Delay, deny and deflect were the strategies Facebook has used to navigate scandals it's faced in recent years, according to the New York Times.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The exhaustive report is based on interviews with more than 50 people with ties to the company.
  • It outlines how senior executives misled the public and lawmakers in regards to what it had discovered about privacy breaches and Russian interference in U.S. politics.
  • On Thursday, Facebook cut ties with one of the companies, Definers Public Relations, listed in the report.
Keep reading Show less

Russian reporters discover 101 'tortured' whales jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

(VL.ru)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Russian news network discovers 101 black-market whales.
  • Orcas and belugas are seen crammed into tiny pens.
  • Marine parks continue to create a high-price demand for illegal captures.
Keep reading Show less

Unraveling the mystery behind dogs' floppy ears

Dogs' floppy ears may be part of why they and other domesticated animals love humans so much.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Nearly all domestic animals share several key traits in addition to friendliness to humans, traits such as floppy ears, a spotted coat, a shorter snout, and so on.
  • Researchers have been puzzled as to why these traits keep showing up in disparate species, even when they aren't being bred for those qualities. This is known as "domestication syndrome."
  • Now, researchers are pointing to a group of a cells called neural crest cells as the key to understanding domestication syndrome.
Keep reading Show less