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Full Access Moved by stills: Kinesthetic sensory experiences in viewing dance photographs

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Moved by stills: Kinesthetic sensory experiences in viewing dance photographs

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For more content, see Multisensory Research and Spatial Vision.

Fine art can be visually pleasing or displeasing; moreover, it can touch us, move us, make us shiver or think. Thus, when looking at a piece of art, different sensory experiences may occur altogether in a multisensory cocktail. Still little is known about what evokes such particular multisensory experience in the art spectator. For instance, Calvo-Merino et al. (2008) found enhanced activity in visual and motor brain areas for dance movements that were liked more; however, these movements mostly consisted of vertical displacements of the dancers’ body. Therefore, we conducted a behavioural experiment to study the effect of apparent movement direction on the kinesthetic experience to visual stimuli. We further enquired where in the body participants felt their reactions. Participants rated their responses to a piloted collection of dance photographs which showed snapshots of either vertical or horizontal dance movements. Ratings were made on Likert-scales from 0–10, referring to the participants’ subjective experience (visual, kinesthetic, arousal, liking) and perception (difficulty, motion). We expected vertical displacements to enhance the kinesthetic experience in the passive viewer. Further, we compared dancers with non-dancers and Spanish with UK students. Our results confirmed that looking at stills of vertical movements increases kinesthetic sensation. We also found predicted cultural enhancement of the levels of subjective arousal responses in the Spanish sample. The differences between dancers and non-dancers were, however, smaller than expected. We will discuss these findings in view of the existing neuro-aesthetics (Calvo-Merino et al., 2010; Cross et al., 2011) and neuroscientific studies (Sedvalis and Keller, 2011) using dance to probe the mirror mechanism in action observation.

Affiliations: 1: 1School of Psychology, University of Surrey, GB; 2: 2Laboratory of Human Systematics, University of the Balearic Islands, Spain, ES

Fine art can be visually pleasing or displeasing; moreover, it can touch us, move us, make us shiver or think. Thus, when looking at a piece of art, different sensory experiences may occur altogether in a multisensory cocktail. Still little is known about what evokes such particular multisensory experience in the art spectator. For instance, Calvo-Merino et al. (2008) found enhanced activity in visual and motor brain areas for dance movements that were liked more; however, these movements mostly consisted of vertical displacements of the dancers’ body. Therefore, we conducted a behavioural experiment to study the effect of apparent movement direction on the kinesthetic experience to visual stimuli. We further enquired where in the body participants felt their reactions. Participants rated their responses to a piloted collection of dance photographs which showed snapshots of either vertical or horizontal dance movements. Ratings were made on Likert-scales from 0–10, referring to the participants’ subjective experience (visual, kinesthetic, arousal, liking) and perception (difficulty, motion). We expected vertical displacements to enhance the kinesthetic experience in the passive viewer. Further, we compared dancers with non-dancers and Spanish with UK students. Our results confirmed that looking at stills of vertical movements increases kinesthetic sensation. We also found predicted cultural enhancement of the levels of subjective arousal responses in the Spanish sample. The differences between dancers and non-dancers were, however, smaller than expected. We will discuss these findings in view of the existing neuro-aesthetics (Calvo-Merino et al., 2010; Cross et al., 2011) and neuroscientific studies (Sedvalis and Keller, 2011) using dance to probe the mirror mechanism in action observation.

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1. Calvo-Merino B. , Jola C. , Glaser D. E. , Haggard P. ( 2008). "Towards a sensorimotor aesthetics of performing art", Consciousness and Cognition Vol 17, 911922. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2007.11.003
2. Calvo-Merino B. , Urgesi C. , Orgs G. , Aglioti S. M. , Haggard P. ( 2010). "Extrastriate body area underlies aesthetic evaluation of body stimuli", Experimental Brain Research Vol 204, 447456. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00221-010-2283-6
3. Cross E. S. , Kirsch L. , Ticini L. F. , Schütz-Bosbach S. ( 2011). "The impact of aesthetic evaluation and physical ability on dance perception", Frontiers in Human Neuroscience Vol 5, 102. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2011.00102
4. Sevdalis V. , Keller P. E. ( 2011). "Captured by motion: dance, action understanding, and social cognition", Brain and Cognition Vol 77, 231236. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bandc.2011.08.005
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/content/journals/10.1163/187847612x647018
2012-01-01
2016-12-09

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