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Modulation of aesthetic value by semantic context: An fMRI study

Anatomy Department, Wellcome Laboratory of Neurobiology, University College London, London, UK.
NeuroImage (Impact Factor: 6.36). 11/2008; 44(3):1125-32. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.10.009
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Aesthetic judgments, like most judgments, depend on context. Whether an object or image is seen in daily life or in an art gallery can significantly modulate the aesthetic value humans attach to it. We investigated the neural system supporting this modulation by presenting human subjects with artworks under different contexts whilst acquiring fMRI data. Using the same database of artworks, we randomly labelled images as being either sourced from a gallery or computer generated. Subjects' aesthetic ratings were significantly higher for stimuli viewed in the 'gallery' than 'computer' contexts. This contextual modulation correlated with activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex and prefrontal cortex, whereas the context, independent of aesthetic value, correlated with bilateral activations of temporal pole and bilateral entorhinal cortex. This shows that prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortices recruited by aesthetic judgments are significantly biased by subjects' prior expectations about the likely hedonic value of stimuli according to their source.

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Available from: Oliver J Hulme, Aug 28, 2015
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    • "Their results showed that believing that the images were copies increased the activity in the frontopolar cortex, which in turn modulated activity in the visual cortex, which is consistent with participants' reports that in this condition they had attempted to identify the cues indicating that those portraits were copies. When the portraits were accompanied by the label 'authentic,' activity in the orbitofrontal cortex increased, similarly to Kirk et al. (2009b) finding. This sort of framing-effects appears to influence neural activity as soon as 200 ms after the presentation of the stimuli (Noguchi and Murota, 2013). "
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    International Encyclopedia of the Social& Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edited by James D. Wright, 05/2015: pages 656-663; Elsevier., ISBN: 9780080970868
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    • "The higher activity in the ACC would mean the need for intense processing to integrate more parameters to go against the usual response and this activity would not be necessary during a more usual response. Previous studies on the neural correlates of esthetic appreciation have found activity in the ACC related to the esthetic valuation (Kawabata and Zeki, 2004; Vartanian and Goel, 2004; Kirk et al., 2009). However, all of them found the activity in the subcallosal region of the ACC which is connected mostly to some limbic areas related to the second division indicated by Bush et al. (2000): the rostral-ventral affective division. "
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    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 07/2014; 8(520). DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00520 · 2.90 Impact Factor
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    • "Brown et al. (2011) meta-analyzed 93 neuroimaging studies of aesthetic appraisal across four sensory modalities and showed that the most concordant area of activation across all four modalities is the right anterior insula, which reflects the “viscerality” of aesthetic perception. Although this meta-analysis revealed the activation of the right anterior insula, regarding the aesthetic appreciation of oil paintings, so far, the activation of the orbitofrontal cortex has been reported (Kirk, 2008; Kirk et al., 2009a,b; Ishizu and Zeki, 2011). Also, the activation of lingual gyrus has been shown (Kawabata and Zeki, 2004; Vartanian and Goel, 2004) while that of occipital gyri has been reported (Vartanian and Goel, 2004; Cupchik et al., 2009). "
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