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Towards a framework for the study of the neural correlates of aesthetic preference

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image of Spatial Vision
For more content, see Multisensory Research and Seeing and Perceiving.

Aiming to provide a tentative framework for the study of the neural correlates of aesthetic preference, we review three recent neuroimaging studies carried out with the purpose of locating brain activity associated with decisions about the beauty of visual stimuli (Cela-Conde et al., 2004; Kawabata and Zeki, 2004; Vartanian and Goel, 2004). We find that the results of the three studies are not in line with previous neuropsychological data. Moreover, there are no coincidences among their results. However, when they are mapped on to Chatterjee's (2003) neuropsychological model of aesthetic preference it becomes clear that neuroimaging data are not contradictory, but complementary, and their interpretation is enriched. The results of these studies suggest that affective processes have an important role in aesthetic preference, and that they are integrated with cognitive processes to reach a decision regarding the beauty of visual stimuli. Future studies must aim to clarify whether certain methodological procedures are better suited to study any of the particular cognitive operations involved in aesthetic preference, and ascertain the extent to which the proposed framework is compatible with the aesthetic appreciation of musical stimuli.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Crta Valldermossa s/n, km 7,5, Palma de Mallorca 07122, Spain; 2: Department of Philosophy, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Crta Valldermossa s/n, km 7,5, Palma de Mallorca 07122, Spain


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