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Art, Aesthetics, and the Brain$
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Joseph P. Huston, Marcos Nadal, Francisco Mora, Luigi F. Agnati, and Camilo José Cela Conde

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199670000

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199670000.001.0001

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Neurobiological Foundations of Art and Aesthetics

Neurobiological Foundations of Art and Aesthetics

(p.453) Chapter 23 Neurobiological Foundations of Art and Aesthetics
Art, Aesthetics, and the Brain

Edmund T. Rolls

Oxford University Press

A theory of the neurobiological foundations of aesthetics and art is described. This has its roots in emotion, in which what is pleasant or unpleasant, a reward or punisher, is the result of an evolutionary process in which genes define the (pleasant or unpleasant) goals for action. To this is added the operation of the reasoning, syntactic, brain system which evolved to help solve difficult, multi-step problems, and the use of which is encouraged by pleasant feelings when elegant, simple, and hence aesthetic solutions are found that are advantageous because they are parsimonious, and follow Occam’s Razor. The combination of these two systems and the interactions between them, provide an approach to understanding aesthetics that is rooted in evolution and its effects on brain design and function.

Keywords:   emotion, evolution, neurobiological foundations of art, aesthetics, natural selection, beauty, pleasure

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