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Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2015 Aug;2015:7990-3. doi: 10.1109/EMBC.2015.7320246.

The first impression is what matters: a neuroaesthetic study of the cerebral perception and appreciation of paintings by Titian.


In this paper we measured the neuroelectrical and the eye-movements activities in a group of 27 healthy subjects during their visit of a fine arts gallery in which a series of masterpieces of the Italian painter Tiziano Vecellio (also known as Titian, 1488-1576) were shown. The pictures chosen for the visit were 10 portraits and 10 of religious subjects. Each picture was observed for a minute. A mobile EEG device with an eye-tracker was used for this experiment. Evaluation of the appreciation of the pictures was performed by using the neuroelectrical approach-withdrawal index (AW). High value of AW means high appreciation of the picture. The number of eye fixations performed by the subjects during the observation of the pictures was also analyzed. Results showed that in the examined group the AW index was significant higher during the observation of portraits than during the observation of the religious subjects (as resulted from an ANOVA performed on AW index, with a p<;0,007). Interestingly, the average AW index estimated in the first 20 seconds of the observation of the pictures remains highly correlated with the AW index evaluated for the second part of the data (from 20 s to one minute) for all the 20 pictures examined (r = 0,82, p<;0,0001). In addition, the number of eye fixations performed by the subjects in the first 5 or 10 seconds of observation of the pictures that were most appreciated are significantly higher than the number of eye fixations performed on pictures that subjects did not like (p<;0,048 and p<;0,0018, respectively). Such difference vanishes if the entire period of observation of the pictures of one minute is used (p = 0,54). Taken together, such results seem to suggest that the neuroelectrical correlates of the perception of "good" or "bad" pictures are rapidly formed in our brain, within the first 10-20 seconds from the exposition to the picture.

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