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Neuroimage. 2006 Jan 1;29(1):276-85. Epub 2005 Aug 8.

Brain correlates of aesthetic judgment of beauty.

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1
BioCog-Cognitive and Biological Psychology, Institute of Psychology I, University of Leipzig, Seeburgstrasse 14-20, 04103 Leipzig, Germany. jacobsen@uni-leipzig.de

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  • Neuroimage. 2006 Aug 1;32(1):486-7.

Abstract

Functional MRI was used to investigate the neural correlates of aesthetic judgments of beauty of geometrical shapes. Participants performed evaluative aesthetic judgments (beautiful or not?) and descriptive symmetry judgments (symmetric or not?) on the same stimulus material. Symmetry was employed because aesthetic judgments are known to be often guided by criteria of symmetry. Novel, abstract graphic patterns were presented to minimize influences of attitudes or memory-related processes and to test effects of stimulus symmetry and complexity. Behavioral results confirmed the influence of stimulus symmetry and complexity on aesthetic judgments. Direct contrasts showed specific activations for aesthetic judgments in the frontomedian cortex (BA 9/10), bilateral prefrontal BA 45/47, and posterior cingulate, left temporal pole, and the temporoparietal junction. In contrast, symmetry judgments elicited specific activations in parietal and premotor areas subserving spatial processing. Interestingly, beautiful judgments enhanced BOLD signals not only in the frontomedian cortex, but also in the left intraparietal sulcus of the symmetry network. Moreover, stimulus complexity caused differential effects for each of the two judgment types. Findings indicate aesthetic judgments of beauty to rely on a network partially overlapping with that underlying evaluative judgments on social and moral cues and substantiate the significance of symmetry and complexity for our judgment of beauty.

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