idw – Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Nachrichten, Termine, Experten

Grafik: idw-Logo
Thema Corona

Imagefilm
Science Video Project
idw-News App:

AppStore



Share on: 
07/22/2021 14:05

How the Brain Paints the Beauty of a Landscape

Ina Wittmann Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Max-Planck-Institut für empirische Ästhetik

    How does a view of nature gain its gloss of beauty? We know that the sight of beautiful landscapes engages the brain’s reward systems. But how does the brain transform visual signals into aesthetic ones? Why do we perceive a mountain vista or passing clouds as beautiful? A research team from the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics has taken up this question and investigated how our brains proceed from merely seeing a landscape to feeling its aesthetic impact.

    In their study, the research team presented artistic landscape videos to 24 participants. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), they measured the participants’ brain activity as they viewed and rated the videos. Their findings have just been published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

    First author A. Ilkay Isik encapsulates: “We would have expected the aesthetic signals to be limited to the brain’s reward systems, but surprisingly, we found them already present in visual areas of the brain while the participants were watching the videos. The activations occurred right next to brain regions deployed in recognizing physical features in movies, such as the layout of a scene or the presence of motion.”

    Senior author Edward Vessel suggests that these signals may reflect an early, elemental form of beauty perception: “When we see something beyond our expectations, local patches of brain tissue generate small ‘atoms’ of positive affect. The combination of many such surprise signals across the visual system adds up to make for an aesthetically appealing experience.”

    With this new knowledge, the study not only contributes to our understanding of beauty, but may also help clarify how interactions with the natural environment can affect our sense of well-being. The results might have potential applications in a variety of fields where the link between perception and emotion is important, such as clinical health care and artificial intelligence.


    Contact for scientific information:

    Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics
    Dr. Ayse Ilkay Isik: ilkay.isik@ae.mpg.de
    Edward A. Vessel, PhD: edward.vessel@ae.mpg.de


    Original publication:

    Isik, A.I. and Vessel, E.A. (2021). From Visual Perception to Aesthetic Appeal: Brain Responses to Aesthetically Appealing Natural Landscape Movies. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 15:676032. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2021.676032


    More information:

    http://ae.mpg.de/en/visna-lab


    Criteria of this press release:
    Journalists, Scientists and scholars
    Psychology
    transregional, national
    Research results, Scientific Publications
    English


    A research team from the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics investigated how our brains proceed from merely seeing a landscape to feeling its aesthetic impact.


    For download

    x

    Help

    Search / advanced search of the idw archives
    Combination of search terms

    You can combine search terms with and, or and/or not, e.g. Philo not logy.

    Brackets

    You can use brackets to separate combinations from each other, e.g. (Philo not logy) or (Psycho and logy).

    Phrases

    Coherent groups of words will be located as complete phrases if you put them into quotation marks, e.g. “Federal Republic of Germany”.

    Selection criteria

    You can also use the advanced search without entering search terms. It will then follow the criteria you have selected (e.g. country or subject area).

    If you have not selected any criteria in a given category, the entire category will be searched (e.g. all subject areas or all countries).