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


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.

Download full-text


Available from: Oliver J Hulme,
  • Source
    • "related brain areas are recruited with respect to positive aesthetic appreciation , we particularly found the precuneus to be engaged in contextual changes both with and without taking positive aesthetic judgments into account . This cardinal difference in findings between the two studies might be explained by the difference in response measure as Kirk et al . ( 2009 ) measured brain activity reflecting a graded liking response . Even though also the recruitment of parietal regions has previously been linked to positive aesthetic judgments in general ( Kawabata and Zeki , 2004 ; Vartanian and Goel , 2004 ; Cela - Conde et al . , 2009 ; Cupchik et al . , 2009 ; Huang et al . , 2011 ; Lacey et al . , "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) we investigated whether a culturally defined context modulates the neurocognitive processing of artworks. We presented subjects with paintings from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, and labeled them as being either from the MoMA or from an adult education center. Irrespective of aesthetic appreciation, we found higher neural activation in the left precuneus, superior and inferior parietal cortex for the MoMA condition compared to the control label condition. When taking the aesthetic preference for a painting into account, the MoMA condition elicited higher involvement of right precuneus, bilateral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and temporoparietal junction (TPJ). Our findings indicate that mental frames, in particular labels of social value, modulate both cognitive and affective aspects of sensory processing.
    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 10/2015; 9(528). DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2015.00528 · 3.63 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "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). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Neuroesthetics is a subfield of cognitive neuroscience that studies the biological mechanisms and psychological processes evoked in the creator or the spectator when adopting an esthetic orientation toward an artistic or nonartistic object in the course of interacting with it. These psychological processes are related to perception, cognition, emotion, evaluation, social, and contextual aspects. Here, we outline the scope of neuroesthetics and summarize its historical background. We thereafter sketch three current approaches to neuroesthetics, and examine recent developments in three areas: emotions, context, and expertise. We finish with an exploration of the potential for future inquiry in neuroesthetics.
    International Encyclopedia of the Social& Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edited by James D. Wright, 05/2015: pages 656-663; Elsevier., ISBN: 9780080970868
  • Source
    • "What is critical about these results is that they show that the sponsorship effects described do not possess a special and separate network of brain responses but instead modulate responses in neural networks normally activated by a wide range of preference judgments. VMPFC encodes for revealed preference across a whole variety of sensory modalities (Knutson et al. 2003; O'Doherty et al. 2003; Rolls et al. 2003; McClure et al. 2004; Plassman et al. 2008; Kirk et al. 2009a). Activity within VMPFC suggested that the neural networks normally activated by a wide range of preference judgments are also modulated by the strong effect of sponsorship. "

Show more