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Understanding the Neuropsychology of Aesthetic Paradox: The Dual Phase Oscillation Hypothesis
Abstract and Figures
Aesthetic delight is a unique and paradoxical psychological experience of simultaneous emotional exaltation and a state of serenity toward a percept when an individual experiences the percept with the approach of an art experiencer or artist. The primary drawback of neuroscientific investigation of art is that it fails to trace the functional coherence of the entire process of generation of aesthetic delight. At least 2 recent seminal works by Vessel et al. (2013) and Cela-Conde et al. (2013) tried to resolve this deficiency using 2 different neuroimaging techniques (fMRI and MEG respectively) and assessed the relevance of the Default Mode Network (DMN) of the brain in the generation of aesthetic pleasure. However, their works are yet to precisely highlight what primarily separates aesthetic experience from similar psychological experiences. This article formulates the dual phase oscillation hypothesis based on the neural correlate of the paradox of aesthetic delight, explaining the precise logic behind linking aesthetic delight and DMN activity. The hypothesis focuses on 2 seemingly paradoxical unique attributes of aesthetic delight: the phenomenon of suspension of disbelief (SOD), whereby the person experiencing art temporarily suspends the belief of surface reality, and the phenomenon of introspective detached contemplation, whereby the same person, while experiencing the same art, reflects on the artistic phenomenon and is simultaneously aware of the surface reality. The hypothesis proposes that aesthetic delight is the dynamic, oscillatory balance between SOD and introspective detached contemplation and is orchestrated by the functional coherence of the DMN. The article integrates the 2 previous works with the fundamentals of this proposal and thus offers a unique neuropsychological solution to the problem of aesthetic paradox.
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