Art, energy and the brain
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Recent years have seen a growing interest among neuroscientists and vision scientists in art and aesthetics, exemplifying a more general trend towards interdisciplinary integration in the arts, humanities and sciences. However, true artscience integration remains a distant prospect due to fundamental differences in outlook and approach between disciplines. I consider two great challenges for any project designed to explain the role of the brain in art appreciation. First, scientists and artists need to identify common ground, common questions, and a shared motivation for inquiry. Second, the neuroscience of art must transcend its current goal of correlating brain functions to behaviour and begin to explain the connection between activity in the brain and the phenomenology of art appreciation. I propose that both challenges can be tackled using an energy-based approach. The concept of ‘energy’ is clearly of central importance to the physical sciences, and to neuroscience in particular. Meanwhile, energy is a concept that artists and art historians have consistently referred to when trying to articulate how artworks are made and appreciated. I survey the role of energy in art, philosophical and psychological aesthetics, and neuroscience, and suggest how this approach could help to further integrate art and neuroscience, and explain how brain activity contributes to aesthetic experience.
Progress in Brain Research;
Pepperell, R. (2018) 'Art, energy and the brain' In Christensen, J. & Gomila, A. (ed.s) The Arts and the Brain: Psychology and Physiology beyond Pleasure, Volume 237. London: Academic Press.
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