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J Anat. 2010 Feb;216(2):184-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2009.01164.x. Epub 2009 Nov 19.

Beauty and the brain: culture, history and individual differences in aesthetic appreciation.

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Experimental Psychology Unit, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Helmut Schmidt University/University of the Federal Armed Forces Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.


Human aesthetic processing entails the sensation-based evaluation of an entity with respect to concepts like beauty, harmony or well-formedness. Aesthetic appreciation has many determinants ranging from evolutionary, anatomical or physiological constraints to influences of culture, history and individual differences. There are a vast number of dynamically configured neural networks underlying these multifaceted processes of aesthetic appreciation. In the current challenge of successfully bridging art and science, aesthetics and neuroanatomy, the neuro-cognitive psychology of aesthetics can approach this complex topic using a framework that postulates several perspectives, which are not mutually exclusive. In this empirical approach, objective physiological data from event-related brain potentials and functional magnetic resonance imaging are combined with subjective, individual self-reports.

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