Limits...
Clive Bell's "Significant Form" and the neurobiology of aesthetics.

Zeki S - Front Hum Neurosci (2013)

Bottom Line: Though first published almost one century ago, and though its premise has been disputed, Clive Bell's essay on aesthetics in his book Art still provides fertile ground for discussing problems in aesthetics, especially as they relate to neuroesthetics.In this essay, I begin with a brief account of Bell's ideas on aesthetics, and describe how they focus on problems of importance to neuroesthetics.I also examine where his premise falls short, and where it provides significant insights, from a neuroesthetic and general neurobiological point of view.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Wellcome Laboratory of Neurobiology, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University College London London, UK.

ABSTRACT
Though first published almost one century ago, and though its premise has been disputed, Clive Bell's essay on aesthetics in his book Art still provides fertile ground for discussing problems in aesthetics, especially as they relate to neuroesthetics. In this essay, I begin with a brief account of Bell's ideas on aesthetics, and describe how they focus on problems of importance to neuroesthetics. I also examine where his premise falls short, and where it provides significant insights, from a neuroesthetic and general neurobiological point of view.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Overlaid contrasts showing conjunction of activity produced by the contrasts color grouping > no grouping (yellow) and motion grouping > no grouping (cyan) as seen in coronal (A), parasagittal (B) and horizontal (C) sections through the brain. From Zeki and Stutters (2013).
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Figure 5: Overlaid contrasts showing conjunction of activity produced by the contrasts color grouping > no grouping (yellow) and motion grouping > no grouping (cyan) as seen in coronal (A), parasagittal (B) and horizontal (C) sections through the brain. From Zeki and Stutters (2013).

Mentions: Recent experiments demonstrate that there are certain combinations of dots in motion (kinetic stimuli) that are preferred by humans over other combinations, and that the preferred combinations activate the areas specialized for visual motion, among them the V5 complex, as well as other areas which may be involved in the perception of dynamic forms, more powerfully than the non-preferred combinations (Zeki and Stutters, 2012; Figure 5). The strength of activity in these areas, as well as in parietal cortex, is proportional to the intensity of the declared subjective preference for the patterns of kinetic dots. Hence there is a direct and quantifiable relationship between declared preference and strength of activation in the relevant visual area. Of the three possibilities given above, it follows that the observed difference here is a stronger activity (which can be objectively verified) with a significant configuration of the stimuli (which can also be objectively specified). Moreover, viewing the preferred kinetic stimuli also leads to activity in the mOFC (Zeki and Stutters, 2012). It is as if a significant configuration of kinetic elements activates the relevant visual areas (V5 and V3A) optimally or selectively (aesthetic perception) which also correlates with activation of the mOFC (aesthetic emotion). I emphasize that there are other stimuli – in particular chaotic motion – which give very strong activation of V5 (ffytche et al., 1995). Hence when I speak of stronger activation above, I only mean stronger activation than non-preferred kinetic stimuli. This raises the possibility that it is not the strongest or maximal activity that correlates with preference but rather a specific activity that becomes optimal when stimuli of the right significant configuration are viewed. How this stronger optimal activation is translated into an aesthetic appreciation is not certain; aesthetic preference correlates with activity in other parts of the brain (see below). But this demonstration nevertheless opens up the possibility that each of the specialized visual areas may have a certain, primitive, biologically derived combination (by which, following Bell, I mean one that is not subject to cognition, cultural influences, and learning) of elements for the attribute that it is specialized in processing, and that the aesthetic perception (which ultimately leads to the aesthetic emotion) is aroused when, in a composite picture, each of the specialized areas is activated preferentially.


Clive Bell's "Significant Form" and the neurobiology of aesthetics.

Zeki S - Front Hum Neurosci (2013)

Overlaid contrasts showing conjunction of activity produced by the contrasts color grouping > no grouping (yellow) and motion grouping > no grouping (cyan) as seen in coronal (A), parasagittal (B) and horizontal (C) sections through the brain. From Zeki and Stutters (2013).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3824150&req=5

Figure 5: Overlaid contrasts showing conjunction of activity produced by the contrasts color grouping > no grouping (yellow) and motion grouping > no grouping (cyan) as seen in coronal (A), parasagittal (B) and horizontal (C) sections through the brain. From Zeki and Stutters (2013).
Mentions: Recent experiments demonstrate that there are certain combinations of dots in motion (kinetic stimuli) that are preferred by humans over other combinations, and that the preferred combinations activate the areas specialized for visual motion, among them the V5 complex, as well as other areas which may be involved in the perception of dynamic forms, more powerfully than the non-preferred combinations (Zeki and Stutters, 2012; Figure 5). The strength of activity in these areas, as well as in parietal cortex, is proportional to the intensity of the declared subjective preference for the patterns of kinetic dots. Hence there is a direct and quantifiable relationship between declared preference and strength of activation in the relevant visual area. Of the three possibilities given above, it follows that the observed difference here is a stronger activity (which can be objectively verified) with a significant configuration of the stimuli (which can also be objectively specified). Moreover, viewing the preferred kinetic stimuli also leads to activity in the mOFC (Zeki and Stutters, 2012). It is as if a significant configuration of kinetic elements activates the relevant visual areas (V5 and V3A) optimally or selectively (aesthetic perception) which also correlates with activation of the mOFC (aesthetic emotion). I emphasize that there are other stimuli – in particular chaotic motion – which give very strong activation of V5 (ffytche et al., 1995). Hence when I speak of stronger activation above, I only mean stronger activation than non-preferred kinetic stimuli. This raises the possibility that it is not the strongest or maximal activity that correlates with preference but rather a specific activity that becomes optimal when stimuli of the right significant configuration are viewed. How this stronger optimal activation is translated into an aesthetic appreciation is not certain; aesthetic preference correlates with activity in other parts of the brain (see below). But this demonstration nevertheless opens up the possibility that each of the specialized visual areas may have a certain, primitive, biologically derived combination (by which, following Bell, I mean one that is not subject to cognition, cultural influences, and learning) of elements for the attribute that it is specialized in processing, and that the aesthetic perception (which ultimately leads to the aesthetic emotion) is aroused when, in a composite picture, each of the specialized areas is activated preferentially.

Bottom Line: Though first published almost one century ago, and though its premise has been disputed, Clive Bell's essay on aesthetics in his book Art still provides fertile ground for discussing problems in aesthetics, especially as they relate to neuroesthetics.In this essay, I begin with a brief account of Bell's ideas on aesthetics, and describe how they focus on problems of importance to neuroesthetics.I also examine where his premise falls short, and where it provides significant insights, from a neuroesthetic and general neurobiological point of view.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Wellcome Laboratory of Neurobiology, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University College London London, UK.

ABSTRACT
Though first published almost one century ago, and though its premise has been disputed, Clive Bell's essay on aesthetics in his book Art still provides fertile ground for discussing problems in aesthetics, especially as they relate to neuroesthetics. In this essay, I begin with a brief account of Bell's ideas on aesthetics, and describe how they focus on problems of importance to neuroesthetics. I also examine where his premise falls short, and where it provides significant insights, from a neuroesthetic and general neurobiological point of view.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus