Article

Visions of the Body: Embodied Simulation and Aesthetic Experience

Article

Visions of the Body: Embodied Simulation and Aesthetic Experience

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Abstract

This essay addresses the questions raised by the distinctly human trait of creating images. For instance, why do humans create images and what are their features that make them special? How are image-making and the uses of images related? What is the purpose of images? This “problem of images” is examined through the lens of modern neuroscience, and the author suggests why and how neuroscience can investigate our relationship with art and aesthetics, framing this empirical approach as “experimental aesthetics.” He illustrates how recent discoveries have revolutionized our ideas about perception, action, and cognition and the relationship among them, allowing a fresh look—complementary to the humanistic approach—at the problem of images. He proposes a new model of perception and cognition called embodied simulation, which reveals the constitutive relationship between body and creative expression.

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... I think, however, that there are very good reasons not to be discouraged by such negative attitudes. As argued many times before (Freedberg and Gallese 2007;Gallese 2011Gallese , 2016Gallese , 2017aGallese , 2018a, I think it is not only legitimate but also necessary for neuroscience to extend its field of empirical investigation to the aesthetic dimension of life. ...
... Cognitive abilities, like the mapping of space and its perception, the perception of objects occupying our visual landscape, the hierarchical representation of action course towards a distal outcome, the detection of motor goals and action anticipation, are all possible because of the peculiar functional architecture of the motor system, organized in terms of goal-directed motor acts. The proper development of this functional architecture scaffolds more cognitively sophisticated social cognitive abilities, like the production/reception of cultural artifacts and fictional worlds (see Gallese 2017aGallese , 2019. ...
... Embodied simulation describes, from a functional standpoint, the neural mechanisms that ensure our connections with the world around us, forming a dialectical relationship between the body and the mind, between subject and object, between you and me. Embodied simulation underlies important aspects of empathy but cannot be identified with it, because it has wider and more diversified areas of application (Gallese 2017a(Gallese , 2018(Gallese a,b, 2019Gallese and Guerra 2019). ...
... It seems to constitute a basic characteristic of our brain, underlying our rich and diversified experiences of space, objects and other individuals, which form the basis of our capacity to emphathize with them." (Gallese 2017) "Embodied simulation" builds on several findings in neuroscience which investigate the working of the (human) brain-body. Vision as a primordial sensory domain plays the main role in it. ...
... Vision as a primordial sensory domain plays the main role in it. It, as all sensory domains, is multimodal and is especially connected to motion and touch, and it encompasses the activation of motor, somatosensory and emotion-related brain networks (Gallese 2017). At the same time, motor neurons in the brain also respond to visual, tactile, and even auditory, stimuli. ...
... Following from these two neurological phenomena is, that "the very same neurons controlling the grasping and manipulation of objects" -within the peripersonal space -"also respond to their mere observation." (Gallese 2017) Another discovery from neurosciences -the so-called mirror neurons -also play an important role in the context at hand. These motor neurons are activated during the observation of an action processed by others and they map such an action on the observer's brain's motor representation of the same action. ...
Conference Paper
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Kinesthesia as a unique sensory domain has been rediscovered by science and humanities in recent years, although its existence has been under investigation since as early as the 19th century. The exact definition of kinesthesia (the kinesthetic sense) still is controversial and at stake amongst scientists and scholars. Historically, the term kinesthesia derives from early studies about the physiological conditions of humans and animals moving their limbs and staying in balance. It has been called the "sense of locomotion" (Scaliger 1557), the "muscular sense" (Bell 1826), "kinesthesia" (Bastian 1880) and also often is called "proprioception" (Sherrington 1906), or vice versa, and then is described as the "sense of bodily position" (Paterson 2012). In film and dance studies, where it has been rediscovered and discussed intensively in the context of the "performative turn" (Polan 1987) in arts and humanities, the "sense of movement" clearly plays an important role. Due to its natural expression in motion, kinesthetics have been explored as typical media aesthetics of film ("moving pictures") (Curtis 2012, Curtis 2010a, Curtis 2010b), dance and performance art (the art of body movement) (Cole and Montero 2007, Foster 2005), as well as in art theory (Fingerhut 2011) and philosophy (Paterson 2012). Many of these studies and discussions focus on the effects of movements by the human body (dance) or by audio-visual media (film, video, game art) on the user/spectator, few have so far analyzed the exact features and forms of media (”media aesthetics”) of these artworks in regard to their appearances. Starting from research findings about the interrelations of kinesthetic media forms in 15 digital installations and their multimodal perception, the presentation will demonstrate how kinesthetic features in media aesthetics of digital artworks can be described in detail, and as such can allow for cross- and multimodal sensory experiences in the user/spectator. We claim, that (artistic) media like e.g. video, image or sound not only provide sensory experiences within their primary sensory modality but each consist of multimodal sensory features which are „integrated“ by the kinesthetic sensory domain. This is true no matter if we observe dynamic or static artifacts. This assumption is supported by a number of neuroscience findings which say that perception per se is basically built on the physical and mental ability to move. However, kinesthetic media aesthetics in an art installation often are not openly shown or presented as such (e.g. as a moving picture or as a rotating object) but typically are "hidden" in cross- or transmodal features of media, apparently addressing other sensory modalities than the kinesthetic sense. Such kinesthetic blind spots in vision, audio, smell, taste, touch, visceroception (the perception of internal organs), thermoception (the sensing of heat and cold), or nociception (sensing pain) can become visible/nameable when we approach them from a second order viewpoint. This is also true for the incorporation of semantic concepts like time and space, and the “sense of empathy" (Berthoz 2014). Thus, the connection between kinesthesia and empathy is a key point to be considered in the exploration of kinesthetic media features in digital artworks and environments. Referring to Heinz von Foerster's statement that we can't see what we can't see, by the example of selected digital artworks the presentation will show how the transmodal integration through the kinesthetic sense happens by means of cross-modal media aesthetics and metaphorical forms expressing motion and movement in non-kinesthetic media.
... In art history, the most notable later-twentieth-century theorist to promote the notion of art as a progression towards realism was Gombrich (1960). In his most famous book, Art and Illusion, he It goes without saying that taste in art has changed since Vasari's day. ...
... In art history, the most notable later-twentieth-century theorist to promote the notion of art as a progression towards realism was Gombrich (1960). In his most famous book, Art and Illusion, he speaks of the classical Greek "conquest of naturalism" (Gombrich 1960, p. 100), perfectly aware that the concept of mimesis, Vasari's imitation of nature, needs to be recast in modern terms. ...
... Direct perceptual access to attributes of style, taken for granted by Vasari and advanced as the key to stylistic analysis by Schapiro, has begun to be investigated in the present century by researchers into biological aspects of the aesthetic experience who draw insights from neuroscience (Freedberg and Gallese 2007;Gallese 2017;Piechowski-Jozwiak et al. 2017;Dobrez 2013Dobrez , 2018. It is not, in our judgement, relevant to go into this in a discussion of Schapiro. ...
Article
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This article examines the concept of style by combining three approaches: that of Giorgio Vasari, whose work is a classic of Western art history, that of Meyer Schapiro, which mediates between art–historical and archaeological/anthropological disciplines, and that of Polly Schaafsma, an example of what stylistic analysis may achieve in rock art studies. We foreground rock art by reason of its ubiquity and time-depth, at the same time placing it in the context of any kind of depiction. In the course of the argument, we comment on a variety of relevant issues, such as those relating to progress in art; to realism; to the relation of style and history, that is, cultural context; and to quantitative as well as qualitative analytical methodologies.
... My hypothesis is that the world of cultural artefacts is 'felt' not too differently from how we feel the more prosaic world we encounter in daily life. We feel for and empathize with fictional images and characters in ways that are similar to how we feel for our real social partners, although with qualifying differences (see Gallese, 2011Gallese, , 2017Gallese, , 2018b. ...
... Cognitive neuroscience is currently empirically investigating art and aesthetics with different approaches to address a number of different issues and questions: 1) to use artistic expressions to understand how the brain works, 2) to localize in the brain -and/or reduce to its functioning-aesthetic concepts like beauty or the sublime, 3) to study the brain to explain art, 4) to study the brain-body in relation to artistic expressions and 5) to understand the constitutive elements of aesthetic experience and the genesis of aesthetic concepts. As previously argued, neuroscience can maximize its heuristic power, particularly if adopting the last approach, enabling to deconstruct and explain the genesis of aesthetic concepts from a bottom-up perspective (Gallese 2017(Gallese , 2018bGallese & Guerra, 2015). ...
... Hildebrand proposed that knowing the object is equivalent to knowing the process by which it has been created. Another of Hildebrand's ideas is even more in line with the hypothesis put forward here: our experience of observed images has fundamental connotations in motor terms (see Freedberg & Gallese, 2007;Gallese, 2011Gallese, , 2012Gallese, , 2017Gallese & Guerra, 2015). This has indeed been confirmed by a series of experiments carried out in our laboratory: the observation of letters of the Roman alphabet, Chinese ideograms or meaningless scribbles, all written by hand, activates the beholders' motor representation of their hand (Heiman, . ...
Article
Full-text available
Embodied simulation, a basic functional mechanism of our brain, and its neural underpinnings are discussed and connected to intersubjectivity and the reception of human cultural artefacts, like visual arts and film. Embodied simulation provides a unified account of both non-verbal and verbal aspects of interpersonal relations that likely play an important role in shaping not only the self and his/her relation to others, but also shared cultural practices. Embodied simulation sheds new light on aesthetic experience and is proposed as a key element for the dialogue between neuroscience and the humanities within the biocultural paradigm.
... I think, however, that there are very good reasons not to be discouraged by such negative attitudes. As argued many times before (Freedberg and Gallese 2007;Gallese 2011Gallese , 2016Gallese , 2017aGallese , 2018a, I think it is not only legitimate but also necessary for neuroscience to extend its field of empirical investigation to the aesthetic dimension of life. ...
... Cognitive abilities, like the mapping of space and its perception, the perception of objects occupying our visual landscape, the hierarchical representation of action course towards a distal outcome, the detection of motor goals and action anticipation, are all possible because of the peculiar functional architecture of the motor system, organized in terms of goal-directed motor acts. The proper development of this functional architecture scaffolds more cognitively sophisticated social cognitive abilities, like the production/reception of cultural artifacts and fictional worlds (see Gallese 2017aGallese , 2019. ...
... Embodied simulation describes, from a functional standpoint, the neural mechanisms that ensure our connections with the world around us, forming a dialectical relationship between the body and the mind, between subject and object, between you and me. Embodied simulation underlies important aspects of empathy but cannot be identified with it, because it has wider and more diversified areas of application (Gallese 2017a(Gallese , 2018(Gallese a,b, 2019Gallese and Guerra 2019). ...
Preprint
Full-text available
If cognitive neuroscience is meant to investigate what makes us human, cultural artifacts and artistic expressions should be at the top of the list of its explananda. Cognitive neuroscience, in tight cooperation and dialogue with the humanities, can shed new light on several theoretical issues related to aesthetics, traditionally dealt with exclusively within the camp of the humanities. A succinct description of embodied simulation theory in relation to aesthetic experience is proposed, and some accomplishments of this bottom-up approach to the experience of visual art and film are illustrated. The notion of 'habit' is introduced, it is connected to its potential underlying neural mechanisms, and to the production and reception of human cultural artifacts. Capitalizing upon Pragmatism, Pierre Bourdieu and practice theory, the relationship between body, habit, practice, rituals and its bearing on the creation of symbolic objects and cultural artifacts is analyzed from a neuro-pragmatist approach, which emphasizes the procedural and implicit forms of human cognition. The suggested gradual transition from tool-making to symbol-making, grants the following: 1) It shows that utilitarian and symbolic behavior are both chapters of the same cognitive technology trajectory; 2) It doesn't require one to assume that symbol-making is the late externalization of a previously existing inner symbolic thought, because symbolic thought and symbol-making are the co-constructive outcome of the development of shared performative practices and habits; 3) It is fully compatible with the neurobiological characterization of human relational potentialities as instantiated by embodied simulation. It is proposed that through the repetition, combination and memorization of particular shared behaviors and actions, and their mimetic ritualization, the social group infuses new cultural meanings into reused bodily performances.
... Such a transdisciplinary investigation may take into account the approach and results of different disciplines such as hermeneutics, literary anthropology and cognitive studies on the functioning of thought (Turner, 1991(Turner, , 2006, on the embodied simulation (Gallese, 2004(Gallese, , 2007(Gallese, , 2008(Gallese, , 2009(Gallese, , 2011(Gallese, , 2012(Gallese, , 2014(Gallese, , 2016(Gallese, , 2017(Gallese, , 2018Gallese & Sinigaglia, 2011;Freedberg & Gallese, 2007;Gallese et al., 2009;Gallese & Cuccio, 2015;Gallese & Guerra, 2015), on empathy, on emotions (Damasio, 2010;LeDoux, 1996, Caruana & Viloa, 2018 and on the neural correlates of the aesthetic experience (Zeki, 1998;Zeki, Romaya, Benincasa & Atiyah, 2014;Ishizu & Zeki, 2013;Chatterjee 2014;Chatterjee & Vartanian, 2014), in order to highlight new perspectives in understanding the still mysterious mindbrain's processes, such as that of the fictional world of beauty created by the imagination. ...
... Finally, from the investigations conducted applying our neurohermeneutic approach about works of the German eighteenth-century literature such as Goethe, Chamisso and Kleist (Gambino & Pulvirenti, 2012, 2013, 2015a, 2015b, 2017, 2018b, we can draw the following conclusions. ...
Article
Full-text available
In the epistemic frame of the biocultural turn and of the neuroaesthetics, we have developed neurohermeneutics as an approach to literature that aims at contributing to the current debate about the linkage between literary, cognitive and neuroscientific studies, focusing on the relationship between mindbrain processes mirrored in the formal features of the text and the strategies activated by the author in a text in order to guide the reader in imagining, emotionally feeling and cognitively getting meanings out of the literary experience. The aim of the neurohermeneutical approach is to grasp and describe phenomenologically the mirroring process between the two extremes of the literary experience, i.e. the writer’s creative process as it is mirrored in the formal features of the literary work and the reader’s imaginative reconfiguration of the text, and what they share in common. The reader revives the mental imaginative processes of the author by creating his/her unrepeatable individual experiences of the text and subjectively redesigning it in an endless loop of features that trigger the imagination and its creative potential both while writing and by reading literature.
... www.nature.com/scientificreports/ as the "embodied simulation" [100][101][102] . According to this theory, the perception of beauty depends on the magnitude of empathic resonance with the content of works of art triggered by the activation of mirror neurons in motor 103,104 and premotor 105 areas. ...
... In our view, however, the two hypotheses are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, Gallese and colleagues argue that "embodied simulation" must be "liberated", meaning that works of art (and the context in which they are perceived) must induce a potentiation of the mirroring mechanisms that are normally active in daily life 102 . According to Gallese, this potentiation is achieved via motor inhibition: "immobility, that is, a greater degree of motor inhibition, probably allows us to allocate more neural resources, intensifying the activation of bodily-formatted representations, and in so doing, making us adhere more intensely to what we are simulating" 102 (p.48). ...
Article
Full-text available
From Kant to current perspectives in neuroaesthetics, the experience of beauty has been described as disinterested, i.e. focusing on the stimulus perceptual features while neglecting self-referred concerns. At a neurophysiological level, some indirect evidence suggests that disinterested aesthetic appreciation might be associated with attentional enhancement and inhibition of motor behaviour. To test this hypothesis, we performed three auditory-evoked potential experiments, employing consonant and dissonant two-note musical intervals. Twenty-two volunteers judged the beauty of intervals (Aesthetic Judgement task) or responded to them as fast as possible (Detection task). In a third Go-NoGo task, a different group of twenty-two participants had to refrain from responding when hearing intervals. Individual aesthetic judgements positively correlated with response times in the Detection task, with slower motor responses for more appreciated intervals. Electrophysiological indexes of attentional engagement (N1/P2) and motor inhibition (N2/P3) were enhanced for more appreciated intervals. These findings represent the first experimental evidence confirming the disinterested interest hypothesis and may have important applications in research areas studying the effects of stimulus features on learning and motor behaviour.
... In recent years neurosciences have extended their field of investigation to the artistic dimension (Gallese, 2000(Gallese, , 2001(Gallese, , 2012(Gallese, , 2016(Gallese, , 2017(Gallese, , 2019a(Gallese, , 2019bTicini, 2013;Cattaneo et al., 2019;Ishizu & Zeki, 2014;Di Dio et al., 2011;Kawabata & Zeki, 2004;Jacobsen et al., 2006). The term used to define this approach is "neuro-aesthetics". ...
... The concept of ARK brings attention to the therapist's empathic involvement when empathy includes the function of care. Applying the concept of "intentional resonance or consonance", a direct form of experiential understanding of others (Gallese, 2003(Gallese, , 2007Gallese, 2017), to the perception of works of art, Gallese (Gallese, 2019a(Gallese, , 2019b states that the relationship established between the artist's intention and the observer's reconstruction of it concerns embodied empathy. ...
... Ces manières sensibles, ces stratégies énonciatives, nous les qualifierons de styles perceptifs. (Lupien, 2004, p.18) Penser l'engagement du corps face à l'oeuvre avec les neurosciences cognitives La contribution fondamentale du corps, de ses capacités motrices, des différents sens, des émotions et de la mémoire à la construction de l'objet visuel caractérise la complexité de l'acte de regarder mise en lumière par la théorie de la simulation incarnée (Gallese, 2005 ;Gallese & Sinigaglia, 2011 ;Gallese, 2017). S'opposant à la classique division entre perception et action, cette théorie pose l'hypothèse d'un ancrage corporel de la perception où les actions et les émotions d'autrui sont représentées en interne à travers un réseau cérébral impliquant des aires sensori-motrices et des aires associées aux émotions. ...
Article
Full-text available
Psychologists have an ethical and professional responsibility to practice in an evidence-based manner such that they implement the most effective treatments for each client based on the available scientific evidence. Nonetheless, there continues to be a gap between the scientific evidence and actual psychological practice in the field of clinical psychology. The scientist-practitioner (S-P) model of training and practice, which emphasizes the integration of both science and practice, is committed to narrowing this gap. The present review discusses how the adoption of the S-P model among clinical psychologists may in turn promote evidence-based practice (EBP) in this field. In addition, barriers related to the implementation of evidence based treatments, as well as potential solutions to these barriers, are discussed.
... Ces manières sensibles, ces stratégies énonciatives, nous les qualifierons de styles perceptifs. (Lupien, 2004, p.18) Penser l'engagement du corps face à l'oeuvre avec les neurosciences cognitives La contribution fondamentale du corps, de ses capacités motrices, des différents sens, des émotions et de la mémoire à la construction de l'objet visuel car-actérise la complexité de l'acte de regarder mise en lumière par la théorie de la simulation incarnée (Gallese, 2005 ;Gallese & Sinigaglia, 2011 ;Gallese, 2017). S'opposant à la classique division entre perception et action, cette théorie pose l'hypothèse d'un ancrage corporel de la perception où les actions et les émotions d'autrui sont représentées en interne à travers un réseau cérébral impliquant des aires sensori-motrices et des aires associées aux émotions. ...
Article
Full-text available
Since the end of 2018, practicing members of the Association des Médecins Francophones du Canada (MdFC) can now prescribe to their patients visits to the museum through an agreement with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA). This article is a cross-examination between psychology and art history, a discipline considered as an extraordinary school of the eye. It questions the link between the body and the artwork more particularly through visual semiotics studies carried out in Quebec from the years 1980-1990 and the theory of embodied simulation in the field of cognitive neuroscience. This contribution aims at better understanding the richness of the experience in front of the artwork in both a clinical and experimental perspective, providing an original synthesis between different disciplines.
... This apparent 'un-empathic' correlation between motor inhibition and aesthetic appreciation might appear to be in opposition with other more "empathic" hypotheses, suggesting the involvement of the mirror neuron system during aesthetic appreciation, such as the "embodied simulation" hypothesis (Gallese, 2017a;Gallese and Guerra, 2012;Gallese and Sinigaglia, 2011;Stamatopoulou, 2017), Menninghaus' notion of "being moved" (Menninghaus et al., 2015) and the notion of synchrony with others mind (Schoeller et al., 2018). These perspectives advance that aesthetic appreciation may be induced by mirror system activation (Gallese, 2018(Gallese, , 2017b, underlying the empathic resonance with the emotional content of works of art and interpersonal communication (Menninghaus et al., 2015). ...
... The three core processes can themselves be broken down into parts with distinct features and discrete neurological locations. Simulation can be divided into "embodied simulation"-a process that uses "mirror neurons" to activate sensations like those being observed or read about (Bergen, 2012(Bergen, , 2016Gallese, 2017)-and the constructive, recombinatory activity of the DMN (Addis, Pan, Vu, Laiser, & Schacter, 2009;Geiger et al., 2019;Molnar-Szakacs & Uddin, 2013). Mental time travel can be divided into episodic memory and future thinking (Schacter, 2018;Suddendorf & Corballis, 2007). ...
Chapter
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The purpose of this chapter is to explain how imaginative verbal artifacts are produced by the imagination and in turn influence the imagination. Assimilating recent neuroscientific research on the evolution of modern brain shape and on the brain’s default mode network, we can now say with confidence that the imagination is a neurological reality, that it is lodged in specific parts of the brain, that it consists of an identifiable set of components and processes, that these components and processes have adaptive functions, and that in fulfilling its functions imagination has been a major causal factor in making Homo sapiens the dominant species on earth. The first section of the chapter defines the main terms in this argument. The second section describes the evolution of modern brain shape and suggests the role imagination has played in producing the complex of behaviors that characterize neurologically modern Homo sapiens. The third section describes the current neuroscientific understanding of the brain’s default mode network—the neurological locus of imagination. The fourth section describes three core processes of imagination used in constructing imaginative verbal artifacts: simulation, mental time travel, and perspective taking (also known as “Theory of Mind” and “mentalizing”). The three processes are illustrated with reference to a modern American novel, Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose. The fifth section describes four specialized forms of imagination that deploy the core processes: dreaming, mind-wandering, autobiographical narratives, and counterfactual thinking. That section explains how these forms are involved in writing or reading literature and identifies a few literary works that illustrate them. The final section sums up the argument for the adaptive functions of literature.
... A second hypothesized key component of the aesthetic experience of the artwork is the relation between the embodied concept of empathy and the visible traces of the artistic creations. In this regard, being able to see the traces left by the brushes or hand movements that characterize the style and technique of the artist would lead to a simulation of the relative motor programs (Gallese, 2017). Thus, the viewer would have the sensation of experiencing the painting from a first-person perspective. ...
Chapter
The embodied simulation account proposed a pivotal role for the body of an observer in the aesthetic perception of artworks. Beginning with this consideration, this chapter briefly outlines evidence from experimental psychology and cognitive neuroscience that supports this proposed relationship between the human body and motor knowledge and aesthetic appraisal of action. The chapter focuses on the cognitive processes involved in perceiving a moving body and aesthetic estimation. It also discusses the impact of visuomotor expertise in shaping different levels of action representation and relative hedonistic judgment. While this research field remains somewhat in its naissance, alternative accounts have also been proposed to account for the link between embodiment, expertise, and movement aesthetics, which are also considered here. The chapter concludes with some theoretical and methodological considerations, questions, and perspectives that warrant further attention in future studies to expand existing knowledge on the empirical aesthetics of the human body in action.
... Echoing classic insights of motor theory of speech perception (see, e.g., Liberman et al., 1967), and drawing on work in neuroscience, including the discovery of a human mirror mechanism (Rizzolatti & Sinigaglia, 2008;Rizzolatti & Fogassi, 2014), this claim can be conceptualized through appeal to what is now known as "Embodied Simulation Theory" (Gallese, 2001;; see also Gallese & Lakoff, 2005). Very generally speaking, its main idea is that we can use our cognitive resources to simulate internally the (psychological motives of) actions and emotions of other people (see also Gallese, 2009Gallese, , 2014Gallese, , 2017. ...
Article
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To what extent can we understand and account for music perception as a creative process? In this paper we draw on recent work in music, creativity, and the cognitive humanities to suggest that the fundamentally creative aspect of music perception is not yet satisfactorily examined in existing research. We briefly review the state of scholarship into both creativity and music perception, and identify key points of convergence, which are prominent in work that investigates the mutuality of action and perception, and the exploratory bases of the latter, among others. Inspired by a growing number of contributions in 4E music cognition research, we argue that listening to music can involve mechanisms of active bodily engagement, along with the imaginative exploration of novel possibilities for thought and action. We put forward the view that this approach is important because of the way in which it can bring to the analytical centre stage a creative dimension that may not otherwise be apparent. The contribution of this paper involves this presentation of a multidisciplinary framework for the study of music perception, highlighting the integration of perception and action, and foregrounding this conception of creative cognition as a central aspect of music perception.
... Embodied simulation can account for how we perceive and imagine the world, but also for how we build the parallel worlds of fiction and experience them. I proposed that the world of cultural artifacts be «felt» not too differently from how we feel the world encountered in daily life: we feel for and empathize with fictional images and characters in ways that are similar to how we feel for our real social partners, although with qualifying differences (see Gallese 2017Gallese , 2020; see also Gallese, Guerra 2019). ...
Article
The main gist of the present article consists in a call to arms for experimental aesthetics, motivated by the conviction that aesthetics is the still poorly investigated key entry point to a deeper understanding of how digital technologies shape our identity, our social relationships and the world where we are living. Aesthetics, as normally conceived, deals with art and beauty. Neuroscience in the last two decades started investigating the neurobiological basis of the appreciation of beauty and art. Aesthetics, however, pervades all forms of social cognition, even more so in the present digital age. The digital disintermediation of perception and meaning-making operated by the new mediascape has literally aestheticized the world. Interconnected mobile digital devices are changing the style of our interaction with images and words, multiplying our «province of meaning», projecting it into multiple dimensions beyond the reach of our naked eye. Our ontology is ever less confined to what we can directly experience through the factual bodily interaction with the «real world». Our present digitally-mediated reality moves our take on the world into novel and poorly explored dimensions, requiring a new empirical understanding and conceptualization of aesthetics. We must investigate the impact that the new digital technologies and related social practices have upon social life. Capitalizing upon the results obtained by experimental aesthetics, and privileging embodiment and the performative quality of perception and cognition, preliminary suggestions for a future research agenda can be outlined. Embodied simulation, a model of perception and cognition, can provide a new take on these issues, fostering a newly based dialogue between neuroscience and the humanities.
... For example, an embodiment effect may be derived from the inferred simulation of a painter's limb movements (Gallese and Di Dio, 2012;Pazzaglia, 2015). Restorers sometimes physically integrate lacunae and the entirety of a painting by simulating the unique gestural traces of the original painter (Di Dio and Gallese, 2009;Gallese, 2017). Interestingly, proprioceptive and sensorimotor components have an important role in aesthetic judgment tasks (Di Dio et al., 2015), supporting the idea that a dynamic interaction between restorer and artwork may impact implicit restorer judgment. ...
Article
Full-text available
Lacunae are the voids left by missing or damaged pieces of artwork, and their presence constitutes a central problem in the aesthetic experience of viewing artwork. However, we hypothesize that experience and knowledge of art might differentially modify viewer reactions to degraded artwork. Here, we investigated the implicit and explicit attitudes of art experts and non-experts towards the aesthetics of perfectly intact and lacunar artwork. Sections of Flemish oil paintings were displayed with or without a degradation mask, which mimics lacunae. Three groups differing in their interaction with art were assessed: art restorers, art historians, and art viewers lacking any art-related professional expertise. We found that (1) professional experience/expertise in art restoration affected implicit, but not explicit, attitudes among restorers, (2) art historians had positive explicit, but not implicit, attitudes toward intact artwork, and (3) it was difficult for non-specialist viewers to understand or appreciate artwork that was not perfectly intact. We further discuss the implications of these results to other forms of aesthetic evaluation and expertise. Modified preferences in experts may improve knowledge of the plastic changes that occur in the cognition of aesthetics and may thus be of significant relevance to enhance the effectiveness of art conservation programs.
... ;Gallese & Sinigaglia, 2011 ;Gallese, 2017). S'opposant à la classique division entre perception et action, cette théorie pose l'hypothèse d'un ancrage corporel de la perception où les actions et les émotions d'autrui sont représentées en interne à travers un réseau cérébral impliquant des aires sensori-motrices et des aires associées aux émotions. ...
Preprint
Since the end of 2018, practicing members of the Association des Médecins Francophones du Canada (MdFC) can now prescribe to their patients visits to the museum through an agreement with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA). This article is a cross-examination between psychology and art history, a discipline considered as an extraordinary school of the eye. It questions the link between the body and the artwork more particularly through visual semiotics studies carried out in Quebec from the years 1980-1990 and the theory of embodied simulation in the field of cognitive neuroscience. This contribution aims at better understanding the richness of the experience in front of the artwork in both a clinical and experimental perspective, providing an original synthesis between different disciplines.
... Hildebrand proposed that knowing 377 the object is equivalent to knowing the process by which it has been created. Another 378 of Hildebrand's ideas is even more in line with the theory being proposed here: 379 our experience of observed images has fundamental connotations in motor terms 380 (see Freedberg and Gallese 2007;Gallese , 2012Gallese , 2017aGallese and Guerra 381 2015). This has indeed been confirmed by a series of experiments carried out in my 382 lab: observing letters of the Roman alphabet, Chinese ideograms or a meaningless 383 scribbles, all written by hand, activates the beholders' motor representation of their 384 hand ( Heimann et al. 2013). ...
Chapter
The notion of performativity is addressed from a neuroscientific perspective, connecting it to its underlying neural mechanisms, and to the production and reception of human cultural artifacts. The connection between action, perception and cognition and its bearing on the creation of fictional worlds and their aesthetic experience is framed within a multidisciplinary approach, as the expression of the so-called bio-cultural paradigm.
... 17 According to Heidi Morrison Ravven, these ideas are compatible with Vittorio Gallese's "shared manifold hypothesis," 18 which posits that empathy should not be seen as an act of projection and identification, but as "the consequence of our natural tendency to experience interpersonal relations first and foremost at the implicit level of intercorporeality. " 19 Moreover, Gallese maintains that film experience offers a liberated embodied simulation, which increases mirroring mechanisms because of its independence from the unrelated external world and exigencies. 20 This potentiated form of empathy, then, makes it possible to interact with the film in a creative way and to use its intellectual and affective STICCHI features to generate new concepts and to modify our perception of the world. ...
Article
For many contemporary linguists, the film Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016) foregrounds the interactive coordinates of communication. This article draws upon Baruch Spinoza and George Lakoff to analyze these dynamics and to demonstrate that Arrival presents an ethical and linguistic challenge based on the viewers’ capacity to reframe their own ways of perceiving the world. Spinoza’s and Lakoff’s theories are fundamental to show the correlation between empathy and embodied simulation on one side, and linguistic/conceptual interaction on the other. This experiential approach implies that film is an embodied and dialogical phenomenon, in which viewers, as Hesselberth’s interpretation of Bakhtin’s chronotope demonstrates, participate also by continuously re-elaborating ideas of time and space. Therefore, we will see how, in Arrival, viewers’ participation constructively integrates the empathic alignment with the characters with the comprehension of the narrative, and involves a Spinozistic ethical effort to use filmic images in the most productive way. © 2018 Film Studies Association of Canada CFFS/RCEC. All rights reserved.
... The experience of struggling, whilst at times intensely personal and even invisible, is often the outcome of an interaction with others; in this sense, our bodies interact with other bodies. Gallese (2017) argues that human experience should always be understood as a form of relational experience. It is important, then, to acknowledge that our interactions with others have embodied dimensions (Payne, 2017). ...
Thesis
This research emerged from a conversation with a teacher who expressed concerns about the impact of lesson observations on ‘struggling’ teachers. Struggling is a term found regularly in the literature and it has gained resonance in spite of the absence of an explicit definition of its core meaning. Notions of struggling have been associated with failing, under-performing and a lack of competence or quality. The dominant conceptualisations of struggling tend to view it as a deficit or they focus on the object or resolution of the struggle rather than the experience of struggling itself. I explored struggling as experienced by teachers with the aim of offering a theorisation of the experience of struggling which better reflects what it means and feels like to be struggling as a teacher. Such a theorisation provides for greater clarity about the experience of struggling itself as expressed by teachers. This study places the voices of teachers at its heart and, as such, helps fill the gap in the literature identified by Yariv and Kass (2017). Participants were established and experienced teachers and leaders in the secondary school system in England. Fourteen participants were recruited using an innovative strategy involving video and social media. The methodological approach taken used a mix of methods: loosely-structured interviews and an arts-based method, collage. Participants created a particular form of collage – where materials are placed rather than stuck – within the context of a research interview. Arts-based methods such as collage are gaining in popularity as they stimulate visual rather than linguistic thinking and offer the opportunity to express experiences as holistic, non-linear metaphors. Collage also has revelatory potential as it helps uncover that which participants cannot necessarily express in words alone. Rich data, comprising interviews and collages, were collected in a 5-month period in 2017. The analytical approach taken allowed the verbal and visual data to be intermingled (Grbich, 2007) and each teacher’s story is presented as an individual analytical summary. Analysis across the teachers’ stories of struggling then produced fifteen themes. Finally, a holistic interpretative approach allowed five key dimensions of the experience of struggling to be established. Together, these five dimensions form the basis of a new conceptualisation of struggling. Struggling was found to be experienced as a temporary fractured state. Struggling was also expressed by participants as heightened bodily symptoms and is associated with negative moods and emotions; struggling can also involve a damaged self-view, a reduced sense of controllability and may lead to impaired performance. This final point is, perhaps, of particular importance as it counters the prevailing view that impaired performance leads to struggling. Implications for policy and practice include a need for leaders to reconsider the support offered to teachers who identify as struggling, with the suggestion that any support is co-constructed with the teacher. Teachers want leaders to know them better and for their work environments to be more compassionate. A culture of ‘collective compassion capability’ (Lilius et al., 2011) can help alleviate struggling and even help improve a teacher’s effectiveness. Finally, stories of struggling could be used as the basis for early career mentoring support.
... Witnessing provides a sense of the others' emotional experience through what has been termed embodied simulation. Gallese (2017) described this process as such: ...
... Embodied simulation is thus seen as the functional mechanism explaining why the same neural structures modeling the functions of our body in the world also contribute to our awareness of our lived body in the world and of the objects that the world contains (Gallese 2005). Although formulated to account for social relationship and interaction, embodied simulation has been considered a potentially interesting and unified framework for accounting for aesthetics perception (Freedberg and Gallese 2005;Gallese 2017a). Neuroscience has shown that the same forms of sociality that enable symbolic and artistic expressions are, at their basis, a further exemplification of intersubjectivity perceived as mutual resonance of intentionally meaningful sensorimotor behaviours (Gallese 2007, Gallese 2017b. ...
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Over the last few years, scholars have been debating whether aesthetic experience is characterized by a peculiar detachment from ordinary experience, i.e., «doubling», or by an intrinsic pragmatic and interactional nature. Within this debate, the embodied cognition paradigm contributes the position that the contemplative quality of aesthetic experience is rather grounded in sensorimotor representations triggered by the perception of aesthetic objects. In this paper, we show that the concept of embodied simulation can be useful for reading Wittgenstein’s notion of hearing-as, conceived of as a peculiar aesthetic experience essentially characterized by intersubjectivity. We then link our findings to the notion of form of life, suggesting that aesthetic experience is a whole of interactional bodily rooted practices intertwined with, and grounded on, the world and others besides ourselves.
... For example, when reading single words with threat connotation, not only the visuo-linguistic cerebral nodes but also the amygdala, a key region for the direct experience of fear, are recruited (Weisholtz et al., 2015). In a similar vein, these vicarious functional brain activations have been linked to aesthetic experience (Freedberg and Gallese, 2007;Gallese, 2017). ...
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Empathy for pain involves sensory and visceromotor brain regions relevant also in the first-person pain experience. Focusing on brain activations associated to vicarious experiences of pain triggered by artistic or non-artistic images, the present study aims to investigate common and distinct brain activation patterns associated to these two vicarious experiences of pain and to assess whether empathy for pain brain regions contribute to the formation of an aesthetic judgment in non-art expert observers. Artistic and non-artistic facial expressions (painful and neutral) were shown to participants inside the scanner and then aesthetically rated in a subsequent behavioural session. Results showed that empathy for pain brain regions (i.e., bilateral insular cortex, posterior sector of the anterior cingulate cortex and the anterior portion of the middle cingulate cortex) and bilateral inferior frontal gyrus are commonly activated by artistic and non-artistic painful facial expressions. For the artistic representation of pain, the activity recorded in these regions directly correlated with participants' aesthetic judgment. Results also showed the distinct activation of a large cluster located in the PCC/precuneus for non-artistic stimuli. This study suggests that non-beauty specific mechanisms such as empathy for pain are crucial components of the aesthetic experience of artworks.
... In this process, negative emotions can still exert their strong grip on attention, emotional involvement, and memory, yet in a way that is disconnected from any real-life danger or urgency to respond to the eliciting stimulus. This disconnection in artistic contexts (e.g., theater, film, music) and more generally in witness positions (e.g., observing a predator or the eruption of a volcano from a safe position) is called 'cognitive distancing' in aesthetic processing [78] or aesthetic distancing (for a related concept, 'liberated embodied simulation', see [80,81]). ...
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Empirical aesthetics has found its way into mainstream cognitive science. Until now, most research has focused either on identifying the internal processes that underlie a perceiver’s aesthetic experience or on identifying the stimulus features that lead to a specific type of aesthetic experience. To progress, empirical aesthetics must integrate these approaches into a unified paradigm that encourages researchers to think in terms of temporal dynamics and interactions between: (i) the stimulus and the perceiver; (ii) different systems within the perceiver; and (iii) different layers of the stimulus. At this critical moment, empirical aesthetics must also clearly identify and define its key concepts, sketch out its agenda, and specify its approach to grow into a coherent and distinct discipline.
... Embodied cognition Wilson, 2002;Leitan and Chaffey, 2014;Shapiro, 2014 Biological embedding of experiences Danese et al., 2011;Rutter, 2012;Nelson, 2017;Bush et al., 2018;Aristizabal et al., 2019 Embodied simulation Gallese and Goldman, 1998;Gallese, 2007Gallese, , 2017Gallese, , 2019 Developmental Origin of Health and Disease (DOHaD) Barker, 1995Barker, , 1998Hanson and Gluckman, 2008;Gluckman et al., 2016 Somatic marker hypothesis Damasio, 1994, 1996Environmental epigenetics Weaver et al., 2004Zhang and Meaney, 2009;Bollati and Baccarelli, 2010 Inference-control loop Petzschner et al., 2017 Phenomenological approaches to embodiment MacLachlan, 2004;Gallagher, 2005;Thompson, 2007;Fuchs, 2008 Bio-looping Seligman et al., 2015;Kirmayer and Gómez-Carrillo, 2019 Phenomena Abstract mental processing Pfeifer and Bongard, 2006;Zdrazilova et al., 2018Bullying Mulder et al., 2020 Action Interoception Craig, 2004Craig, , 2009bSeth, 2013;Seth and Friston, 2016 Traumatic events Ramo-Fernández et al., 2015;Kuan et al., 2017 Joint action Sebanz et al., 2006;Vesper et al., 2010 Joint attention Moore et al., 1995;Eilan, 2005 Language development Rizzolatti and Arbib, 1998;Fuchs, 2016b;Inkster et al., 2016;Sidhu and Pexman, 2016 Mental health Herbert and Pollatos, 2012;Petzschner et al., 2017;Khalsa et al., 2018 Motor imagery Lotze and Halsband, 2006;Filimon et al., 2007;Munzert et al., 2009 Social perception and judgement IJzerman and Semin, 2010; Kang et al., 2011;Meier et al., 2012 Fields of research Environmental approaches to embodiment, on the other hand, explicitly examine the developmental outcome related to the environmental impact under study. The goal is to trace the underlying biological processes, which lead to the observed associations in longitudinal epidemiological data (Hanson and Gluckman, 2008;Rutter, 2016; see also references in Table 1). ...
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Embodiment research is at a turning point. There is an increasing amount of data and studies investigating embodiment phenomena and their role in mental processing and functions from across a wide range of disciplines and theoretical schools within the life sciences. However, the integration of behavioral data with data from different biological levels is challenging for the involved research fields such as movement psychology, social and developmental neuroscience, computational psychosomatics, social and behavioral epigenetics, human-centered robotics, and many more. This highlights the need for an interdisciplinary framework of embodiment research. In addition, there is a growing need for a cross-disciplinary consensus on level-specific criteria of embodiment. We propose that a developmental perspective on embodiment is able to provide a framework for overcoming such pressing issues, providing analytical tools to link timescales and levels of embodiment specific to the function under study, uncovering the underlying developmental processes, clarifying level-specific embodiment criteria, and providing a matrix and platform to bridge disciplinary boundaries among the involved research fields.
... For example, when reading single words with threat connotation, not only the visuo-linguistic cerebral nodes but also the amygdala, a key region for the direct experience of fear, are recruited (Weisholtz et al., 2015). In a similar vein, these vicarious functional brain activations have been linked to aesthetic experience (Freedberg and Gallese, 2007;Gallese, 2017). ...
Article
Full-text available
Empathy for pain involves sensory and visceromotor brain regions relevant also in the first-person pain experience. Focusing on brain activations associated to vicarious experiences of pain triggered by artistic or non-artistic images, the present study aims to investigate common and distinct brain activation patterns associated to these two vicarious experiences of pain and to assess whether empathy for pain brain regions contribute to the formation of an aesthetic judgment in non-art expert observers. Artistic and non-artistic facial expressions (painful and neutral) were shown to participants inside the scanner and then aesthetically rated in a subsequent behavioural session. Results showed that empathy for pain brain regions (i.e., bilateral insular cortex, posterior sector of the anterior cingulate cortex and the anterior portion of the middle cingulate cortex) and bilateral inferior frontal gyrus are commonly activated by artistic and non-artistic painful facial expressions. For the artistic representation of pain, the activity recorded in these regions directly correlated with participants’ aesthetic judgment. Results also showed the distinct activation of a large cluster located in the PCC/precuneus for non-artistic stimuli. This study suggests that non-beauty specific mechanisms such as empathy for pain are crucial components of the aesthetic experience of artworks.
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L'attivazione corporea ed emotiva di fronte al dolore è stata collegata al desiderio di aiutare l'altro. Basandosi su precedenti ricerche di neuroestetica, e sul concetto di Conoscenza Relazionale Estetica nel quadro della terapia della Gestalt, la ricerca ha indagato le reazioni di 29 individui di fronte a immagini di dolore e sentimenti neutri, in rappresentazioni artistiche e in foto di attori. Gli individui sono stati testati con SCL-90-R, MAIA e IRI. I risultati confermano l'ipotesi che il desiderio di aiutare è connesso con l'attivazione corporea-emozionale, con la capacità di sentire il proprio corpo e tuttavia tenere l'emozione dell'altro. L'attivazione corporeo-emotiva è stata mostrata solo nella rappresentazione artistica del dolore. Una possibile spiegazione è che il "movimento" che attiva una persona di fronte al dolore è meglio espresso nelle immagini artistiche.
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This paper analyses Edgar Wind’s interpretation of Aby Warburg’s opus by focusing on the role of the concept of Einfühlung (empathy) theorised by Robert Vischer in Warburg’s thought. The notion of empathy is at the core of Warburg’s investigation of Renaissance imagery, style, symbols, and human expression. This study also updates Vischer’s, Warburg’s, and Wind’s insights on the biological basis of empathy in light of recent neuroscientific research, as Warburg and Wind desired. As this study shows, the concept of Einfühlung can be further developed, considering recent advances in cognitive neuroscience, confirming Warburg’s and Wind’s understanding of the biological implications of images for both the artist and the observer. To this end, ongoing neuroscientific research on motion, emotion, and empathy is considered.
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This article’s main thesis is that aesthetic communication has evolved from animal social play to forms of extraordinary complexity such as traditional arts, help- ing to preserve and transfer survival oriented information in a preverbal, or embod- ied form. Following this line of argument, aesthetic communication provides the basis for an adaptive modeling of reality wherein the agents engaged simulate potential exchanges and outcomes with factual or fictive entities, further enhancing – by proxy – their ability to predict and adapt to natural and intentional contingencies. By means of aesthetic communication human cognition has become distributed, i.e. off-loaded in the practices, customs and emotional templates readily available in culture. In this light, the decline of traditional societies and the isolation of art practices that results from it, are to be considered subjects of scientific concern in addressing the societal and ecological crisis we confront today.
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Within the heuristic frame of the »Biocultural Turn«, this paper aims to propose a new transdisciplinary approach: the Neurohermeneutics of Suspicion. Its purpose is to investigate the literary text as a unique cognitive dynamic device with multilayered meanings and a metaphorical undercurrent, both responsive to the functioning system of the human mind. This implies considering the literary text as an anthropological device, which cognitively guides the imaginative, emotional and experiential responses of the reader by means of the author’s linguistic, stylistic and rhetoric choices, mirroring cognitive, emotional, and imaginative human processes. We suggest that particularly Ricoeur’s idea of a ›suspicious stance‹ opens a new way to hermeneutics, allowing to refigure the process of reading as a creative and ›playful‹ act, and to restore the value of subjectivity in the process of deciphering fictional worlds conveying ever new meanings to texts.
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This study addresses the problem of the representation and perception of movement in sculpture. The starting point is the aesthetics of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), who, in dealing with sculpture, emphasises the importance of the beholder's imagination during the contemplation of human figures the posture of which suggests movement to the viewer. Under examination are two of Freud's texts: Delusions and Dreams in Jensen's «Gradiva» (1907) and The Moses of Michelangelo (1914), which deal with a Roman bas-relief and a Renaissance statue, respectively. These writings engage with artworks that represent pregnant moments in time: instants depicting people, gestures, mid-movement. These moments, conveyed by the artists through the energy of their figures' gestures, activate the beholder's imagination, which, in turn, enables a mental reconstruction of the action and a visceral understanding of the image. This essay proposes that, in static works of art such as marble statues, the representation of entire scenes (in temporal sense) can only happen internally, in the beholder's brain-body system. It is in this sense that achievements in the cognitive neurosciences-mainly in topics related to the mechanisms of embodied simulation and motor imagery-can cast new light on Freud's aesthetics, offering a new understanding of his insights.
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This chapter addresses brain and its interconnection with the visual, aural, tactile and kinaesthetic systems. From research into the visual cortex of the brain, we have observed the realisation that nerve cells are highly selective as to the stimuli to which they respond. It appears that all forms of learning lead to synaptic growth, but rather while short‐term or working memory strengthens synapses, long‐term memory not only strengthens synapses but also creates new synapses. Whilst the focus of our senses is invariably on vision, further attention is warranted on all the other senses. Touch is more tangible, and the sense of feel is important also–the texture and roughness, warmth and cold, can all be sensed particularly by the extremities of the body, thumbs and toes and skin–and the sense of movement and proprioception of the body. In aural terms, the ear receives and distinguishes sounds, speech, language and music.
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Studies on the lateralization of facial perception and the asymmetry of facial emotional expressions date back to the 19th century. Several left-side biases have been identified: greater expressivity of the left side of the face, a left cheek bias (i.e. a preference to display one’s left cheek), a left visual field advantage (i.e. a preference and improved performance when stimuli are presented in the left visual field), a left gaze bias (i.e. a preference to direct and to spend more time looking at the left side of centrally presented faces, i.e. the anatomical right side). The simultaneous occurrence of these left-side biases, however, has hardly been studied. Thus, we recorded participants’ visual scan-paths and emotional intensity ratings of the depicted faces of pre-19th century self-portraits (i.e. anatomical left side of the face in the left visual field), portraits (i.e. anatomical left side of the face in the right visual field), and their mirror-reversed formats. Self-portraits evoked greater emotional intensity ratings and shorter latencies of the first fixation than portraits, regardless of their format. In addition, for self-portraits the duration of the first fixation was longer for the anatomical left hemi-face. We hypothesize that the observation of self-portraits may arouse greater sensorimotor engagement in the observer as a result of the greater sensorimotor engagement of the artist while painting them.
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Visual aesthetic experiences are omnipresent in our everyday life: from the joy that arises from looking at untouched natural landscapes or beautifully designed objects and artworks, to the conscious or unconscious aesthetic preferences that influence ordinary purchasing decisions for food or clothing, all the way to important life decisions like selecting a partner. It is thus no wonder that empirical aesthetics is a research field that scientists, artists, humanists, and marketers alike are interested in. The increasingly interdisciplinary field of empirical aesthetics offers manifold methods and a vast range of perspectives on aesthetic issues. This doctoral thesis examines the aesthetic appeal of photographs from the disciplinary viewpoint of psychology. In three consecutive research papers it addresses the fundamental issue of how to define an aesthetic measure for a suitable set of images in order to investigate aesthetic principles. This is done by leveraging data from a real-world source: the social media platform Instagram. The first research paper addresses the question whether and how Instagram Likes can be leveraged to investigate aesthetic principles. It provides insights from an explorative investigation of liking data and low-level image features in a confined set of about 700 photographs derived from five large Instagram accounts of architecture photographs. It is shown that Instagram Likes can serve as a proxy for the aesthetic appeal of images if important confounds are controlled for through careful data selection. Based on the promising results from this initial study, in research paper 2 the database is broadened to over 15,000 images from different genres (architecture, dancer portraits, and landscapes) and a comprehensive method is developed to compute an aesthetic score reflecting the aesthetic appeal of an image based on Instagram Likes. This method systematically reflects and addresses the need to control for influential confounds, above all the growing numbers of followers of an account over time. Finally, in the 3rd research paper 30,000 photographs from another genre, namely bird photography, are investigated, lending further proof for the broad applicability of the method from research paper 2. The investigation of several form, content, and context variables that were hypothesized to affect the aesthetic appeal of such photos underlines the potential of leveraging Instagram data in empirical aesthetics. This doctoral thesis proposes a new approach to tap a valuable source of data for empirical aesthetics and develops a measure for the aesthetic appeal of photographs. Several previously studied aesthetic principles were replicated and generalized using Instagram data, providing empirical evidence for both universal and domain-specific aesthetic effects. The methodological contributions of this thesis provide a sound basis for the use of real-life data from Instagram to investigate aesthetic principles with good ecological validity in mind.
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This article examines how screenwriting adaptations of written material speak of levels of truth-telling within various autobiographical texts. These include literary adaptations by Marguerite Duras: Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) and The North China Lover (1992), and the autobiographical filmmaking of Maya Deren: Meshes of the Afternoon (1946) and The Very Eye of Night (1958). I argue that descriptions of tactile sensation necessarily remain codified in screenplays, their connotations left hanging even when the filmmaking process often falls short of depicting final truth. What remains is an unresolved problematic perception standing in for an experience. Our own experience of cinema can invariably be one wherein neither words nor images appear, or reappear, as to how they felt for the screenwriter. Is this a wholly negative situation, or merely the continuation of mediation, remediation and the contingent transposition of one medium into another? Drawing on examples from the screenwriting and/or filmmaking of Duras and Deren, I discuss why the screenwriter always writes in personal terms (because the personal is inescapable), and that this is a personal experience of imagination through the writing. Moreover, I test the idea that screenwriting only emerges in a form that we can recognize as truth, through its depictions of tactility and its representations of sensation.
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Portrait therapy entails an art therapist co-creating portraits of patients diagnosed with life-limiting illnesses and exhibiting it in a museum art gallery. A description of portrait therapy practice draws on the portraits, collages, and prose poems of two patients, along with feedback from exhibition visitors and patients’ families. For patients, portrait therapy provides control over how they are seen, opportunity to reevaluate life, and enable a sense of continuity. For visitors, portrait therapy raised awareness of suffering, identified shared human emotions, and facilitated bereavement.
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This contribution proposes how beholders may internally process unfinished works of art. It does so by considering five of Michelangelo Buonarroti's interrupted sculptures and pointing out their empathic and imaginative potential. The beholder focused on the surface, I propose, is inclined to mentally simulate the artist's gesture that drafted the sculptures through the visible graphic signs of the chisels. This inner simulation takes place within the activation of various brain networks, located in the brain's motor system. Renaissance authors associated the observation of the unfinished to learning and, as this article shows, this assumption seems to find confirmation in recent neuroscientific studies on mirror neurons and imitation learning. In this way, the empathic engagement established between the beholder and the work of art observed-as well as the role played by embodied simulation and imagination in this kind of visual perception-clarifies how the incompleteness can also have that peda-gogical function recognised by Giorgio Vasari and Benvenuto Cellini.
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Lo estético es un hecho antropológico que —como el lenguaje o el pensamiento simbólico— pertenece al registro comportamental, cognitivo y social de nuestra especie. A partir de esta consideración, el artículo pretende aclarar los usos de la categoría de lo “estético” en las ciencias humanas (antropología social, psicología cognitiva, antropología evolutiva). La investigación epistemológica se concentra en los supuestos implícitos que guían las diferentes metodologías y enfoques teóricos, y finalmente propone un mapa conceptual de los modelos estéticos adoptados en el debate contemporáneo. Este resultado se presenta como un paso analítico preliminar destinado a promover un enfoque interdisciplinario de la complejidad y diversidad sociobiológica de los fenómenos estéticos.//Starting from the assumption that aesthetic is an anthropological fact which like language or symbolic thought belongs to the behavioral, cognitive and social register of our species, the article aims to clarify the uses of the category of aesthetic in the human sciences (social anthropology, cognitive psychology, evolutionary anthropology). The epistemological analysis focuses on the implicit assumptions that guide the different methodologies and leads to the elaboration of a conceptual map of the several models of aesthetic adopted in the contemporary debate. Such a result is presented as a preliminary analytical step aimed at fostering an interdisciplinary approach to the complexity and socio-biological diversity of aesthetic phenomena.
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This chapter investigates the ways in which the dialogism and unfinalizability of cultural heritage experiences redefine place attachment, so that inhabitants and visitors of cities can recognize and process the urban multivariate collective cultural and aesthetic distinctiveness. The suggested approach is founded on the amalgamation of novels with mobile/context-aware augmented reality. Urban novels play a threefold role. First, they reveal a multiplicity of embodied situations as spatiotemporal representations of the surrounding built environment. Second, they create socially mediated memories related to groups and places. Third, the reading of novels offers strong bodily enactment, opening up the minds of readers to the vivid collective, social and cultural potential, surprise and aesthetic awareness of the urban environment. Augmented Reality integrated with novels can render possible the exploration of such characteristics; as a result, a mutated, transformed urbanscape emerges as a multilayered experience capable of defining durable relationships with the city’s hidden collective, cultural, and aesthetic memories.
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In 2018, the Area of Visual Anthropology (UBA) began a fieldwork with 360º video in the archaeological site Cueva de las Manos (Argentina), with the aim of projecting a space for experimentation with immersive technologies, to confront the visitor with the images of the cave. This work presents a series of reflections on the application of these technologies to the development of an interactive environment through the sensory-motor and affective experience of reality. Based on the hypothesis that Mixed Reality involves a new sensory dimension that allows stimulating the spatial and cinematic sensoriality of the image, the project explores the narrative possibilities of an expanded visual anthropology, not only in technical terms, but also in disciplinary terms. It introduces the use of low-cost technologies such as the Oculus Rift combined with hand tracking, 3D design, and specialized software for archeology.
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When adults interact with babies, they do special things. In this chapter, through a microanalysis of interaction scenes between an adult and a 7-month-old baby, we describe the infant-directed improvised performance. The aesthetic perspective assumed led us to continue the path initiated by others, evidencing remarkable structural and functional affinities between these kinds of encounters between adults and infants and the temporal arts. The infant-directed improvised performances are sound-kinetic phrases improvised by the adult through resources also used in temporal art performances, like the repetition-variation form. Adults create brief motifs collected from the baby’s behavior or contingencies in the surroundings and repeat them in varied forms. In this chapter, we specify the temporal, energetic, and spatial dimensions of these variations through the use of analytical tools developed for the exegesis of artistic expression. Interesting events occur in infant-directed improvised performance: adults summon infants to social life, offer them well-formed behavioral units favoring their recognition, and interpret the world for infants, regulating their moods. They also illuminate cognitive structures such as image schemas and invite infants to experience primary metaphors. By virtue of performances, babies are also initiated into corporeal and aesthetic enculturation.KeywordsInfant-directed improvised performancePrimary metaphorsImage schemasTemporal artsExpressive resourcesImprovisation
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This study proposes that intermediality in Renaissance art makes a strong impact on both the aesthetic space and the beholder's attention, memory, and imagination. It does so by focusing on the vision of the "Adoration of the Magi" that Gaudenzio Ferrari realised in Chapel V of the Sacred Mountain of Varallo. As suggested in the handbook "Garden of Prayer", which stresses the relation between the beholder's mind and the stories perceived, the dialogue among the arts converging in Gaudenzio's image serves a specific purpose, namely, to facilitate immersion in the scene observed. The impact of intermediality on the observer is enhanced by the verisimilitude of both the statuary and painted figures. As empirical evidence suggests, certain types of responses (e.g., surprise, approach, or withdrawal) seem to be involved during the contemplation of similar aesthetic spaces, depending on where the viewers focus their attention, activating specific neural networks in the observers' brain. Furthermore, intermediality seems to drive high levels of visual attention; consequently, what is stored in the memory is greater for experiences of intermediality than for typical aesthetic experiences, thus confirming the statements on memory contained in the "Garden of Prayer".
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The discussion about the concepts of cave art and painting settled the basis of the project in the archaeological site of Cueva de las Manos in Argentina. The team uses an immersive technology of VR and the 360° video as a methodology to explore visuality understood as a corporal act. Our hypothesis maintains that the concept of “aesthetic experience” is not exclusively artistic, in its modern sense. The immersive medium allows users to experience the Cave, as a Virtual Denkraum, the spatial and cinematic sensoriality of the image, that poses open questions, instead of the need to decode meaning in the pictures.
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Neuroesthetics is a field within cognitive neuroscience investigating the neural underpinnings of esthetic experience, particularly in visual arts. Neuroscience has investigated this area using brain imaging and neurophysiological techniques. The evidence produced so far, its heterogeneity notwithstanding, shows that esthetic experience of artworks is characterized by activation of sensory–motor areas, core emotional centers, and reward-related centers. In this article we discuss the functional relevance of these activations. Capitalizing upon the fundamental role of empathy in visual art appreciation, we propose an embodied theory of esthetic experience that emphasizes the role of motor and emotional embodied simulation mechanisms in the beholder.
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Given ample evidence for shared cortical structures involved in encoding actions, whether or not subsequently executed, a still unsolved problem is the identification of neural mechanisms of motor inhibition, preventing "covert actions" as motor imagery from being performed, in spite of the activation of the motor system. The principal aims of the present study were the evaluation of: 1) the presence in covert actions as motor imagery of putative motor inhibitory mechanisms; 2) their underlying cerebral sources; 3) their differences or similarities with respect to cerebral networks underpinning the inhibition of overt actions during a Go/NoGo task. For these purposes, we performed a high density EEG study evaluating the cerebral microstates and their related sources elicited during two types of Go/NoGo tasks, requiring the execution or withholding of an overt or a covert imagined action, respectively. Our results show for the first time the engagement during motor imagery of key nodes of a putative inhibitory network (including pre-supplementary motor area and right inferior frontal gyrus) partially overlapping with those activated for the inhibition of an overt action during the overt NoGo condition. At the same time, different patterns of temporal recruitment in these shared neural inhibitory substrates are shown, in accord with the intended overt or covert modality of action performance. The evidence that apparently divergent mechanisms such as controlled inhibition of overt actions and contingent automatic inhibition of covert actions do indeed share partially overlapping neural substrates, further challenges the rigid dichotomy between conscious, explicit, flexible and unconscious, implicit, inflexible forms of motor behavioral control.
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The aim of this study was to test the involvement of sensorimotor cortical circuits during the beholding of the static consequences of hand gestures devoid of any meaning.In order to verify this hypothesis we performed an EEG experiment presenting to participants images of abstract works of art with marked traces of brushstrokes. The EEG data were analyzed by using Event Related Potentials (ERPs). We aimed to demonstrate a direct involvement of sensorimotor cortical circuits during the beholding of these selected works of abstract art. The stimuli consisted of three different abstract black and white paintings by Franz Kline. Results verified our experimental hypothesis showing the activation of premotor and motor cortical areas during stimuli observation. In addition, abstract works of art observation elicited the activation of reward-related orbitofrontal areas, and cognitive categorization-related prefrontal areas. The cortical sensorimotor activation is a fundamental neurophysiological demonstration of the direct involvement of the cortical motor system in perception of static meaningless images belonging to abstract art. These results support the role of embodied simulation of artist's gestures in the perception of works of art.
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The aim of our paper is to show that there is a sense of body that is enactive in nature and that enables to capture the most primitive sense of self. We will argue that the body is primarily given to us as source or power for action, i.e., as the variety of motor potentialities that define the horizon of the world in which we live, by populating it with things at hand to which we can be directed and with other bodies we can interact with. We will show that this sense of body as bodily self is, on the one hand, antecedent the distinction between sense of agency and sense of ownership, and, on the other, it enables and refines such distinction, providing a conceptual framework for the coherent interpretation of a variety of behavioral and neuropsychological data. We will conclude by positing that the basic experiences we entertain of our selves as bodily selves are from the very beginning driven by our interactions with other bodies as they are underpinned by the mirror mechanism.
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"A lucid book . . . it should be a must-read for anyone active in the arts."-Marc Spiegler, Chicago Tribune Books With The Invention of Art, Larry Shiner challenges our conventional understandings of art and asks us to reconsider its history entirely, arguing that the category of fine art is a modern invention—that the lines drawn between art and craft resulted from key social transformations in Europe during the long eighteenth century.
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1. We studied the functional properties of neurons in the caudal part of inferior area 6 (area F4) in awake monkeys. In agreement with previous reports, we found that the large majority (87%) of neurons responded to sensory stimuli. The responsive neurons fell into three categories: somatosensory neurons (30%); visual neurons (14%); and bimodal, visual and somatosensory neurons (56%). Both somatosensory and bimodal neurons typically responded to light touch of the skin. Their RFs were located on the face, neck, trunk, and arms. Approaching objects were the most effective visual stimuli. Visual RFs were mostly located in the space near the monkey (peripersonal space). Typically they extended in the space adjacent to the tactile RFs. 2. The coordinate system in which visual RFs were coded was studied in 110 neurons. In 94 neurons the RF location was independent of eye position, remaining in the same position in the peripersonal space regardless of eye deviation. The RF location with respect to the monkey was not modified by changing monkey position in the recording room. In 10 neurons the RF's location followed the eye movements, remaining in the same retinal position (retinocentric RFs). For the remaining six neurons the RF organization was not clear. We will refer to F4 neurons with RF independent of eye position as somatocentered neurons. 3. In most somatocentered neurons (43 of 60 neurons) the background level of activity and the response to visual stimuli were not modified by changes in eye position, whereas they were modulated in the remaining 17. It is important to note that eye deviations were constantly accompanied by a synergic increase of the activity of the ipsilateral neck muscles. It is not clear, therefore, whether the modulation of neuron discharge depended on eye position or was a consequence of changes in neck muscle activity. 4. The effect of stimulus velocity (20-80 cm/s) on neuron response intensity and RF extent in depth was studied in 34 somatocentered neurons. The results showed that in most neurons the increase of stimulus velocity produced an expansion in depth of the RF. 5. We conclude that space is coded differently in areas that control somatic and eye movements. We suggest that space coding in different cortical areas depends on the computational necessity of the effectors they control.
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Visual and motor properties of single neurons of monkey ventral premotor cortex (area F5) were studied in a behavioral paradigm consisting of four conditions: object grasping in light, object grasping in dark, object fixation, and fixation of a spot of light. The employed objects were six different three-dimensional (3-D) geometric solids. Two main types of neurons were distinguished: motor neurons (n = 25) and visuomotor neurons (n = 24). Motor neurons discharged in association with grasping movements. Most of them (n = 17) discharged selectively during a particular type of grip. Different objects, if grasped in similar way, determined similar neuronal motor responses. Visuomotor neurons also discharged during active movements, but, in addition, they fired also in response to the presentation of 3-D objects. The majority of visuomotor neurons (n = 16) showed selectivity for one or few objects. The response was present both in object grasping in light and in object fixation conditions. Visuomotor neurons that selectively discharged to the presentation of a given object discharged also selectively during grasping of that object. In conclusion, object shape is coded in F5 even when a response to that object is not required. The possible visual or motor nature of this object coding is discussed.
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What are the neural bases of action understanding? Although this capacity could merely involve visual analysis of the action, it has been argued that we actually map this visual information onto its motor representation in our nervous system. Here we discuss evidence for the existence of a system, the 'mirror system', that seems to serve this mapping function in primates and humans, and explore its implications for the understanding and imitation of action.
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In this article we provide a unifying neural hypothesis on how individuals understand the actions and emotions of others. Our main claim is that the fundamental mechanism at the basis of the experiential understanding of others' actions is the activation of the mirror neuron system. A similar mechanism, but involving the activation of viscero-motor centers, underlies the experiential understanding of the emotions of others.
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We investigated the motor and visual properties of F5 grasping neurons, using a controlled paradigm that allows the study of the neuronal discharge during both observation and grasping of many different three-dimensional objects with and without visual guidance. All neurons displayed a preference for grasping of an object or a set of objects. The same preference was maintained when grasping was performed in the dark without visual feedback. In addition to the motor-related discharge, about half of the neurons also responded to the presentation of an object or a set of objects, even when a grasping movement was not required. Often the object evoking the strongest activity during grasping also evoked optimal activity during its visual presentation. Hierarchical cluster analysis indicated that the selectivity of both the motor and the visual discharge of the F5 neurons is determined not by the object shape but by the grip posture used to grasp the object. Because the same paradigm has been used to study the properties of hand-grasping neurons in the dorsal premotor area F2, and in the anterior intraparietal area (AIP), a comparison of the functional properties of grasping-related neurons in the three cortical areas (F5, F2, AIP) is addressed for the first time.
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The implications of the discovery of mirroring mechanisms and embodied simulation for empathetic responses to images in general, and to works of visual art in particular, have not yet been assessed. Here, we address this issue and we challenge the primacy of cognition in responses to art. We propose that a crucial element of esthetic response consists of the activation of embodied mechanisms encompassing the simulation of actions, emotions and corporeal sensation, and that these mechanisms are universal. This basic level of reaction to images is essential to understanding the effectiveness both of everyday images and of works of art. Historical, cultural and other contextual factors do not preclude the importance of considering the neural processes that arise in the empathetic understanding of visual artworks.
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Arte, Corpo, Cervello: Per un'Estetica Sperimentale
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