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The cognitive neuroscience of art: a preliminary fMRI observation

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The perception and cognition of art, a venture done effortlessly by all members of our species, is a complicated affair in which visual perception, brain structures, sensory reasoning, and aesthetic evaluation are made in less time that it takes to read this sentence. Only recently, through perceptual/brain studies, have we begun to understand the many neurological sub-routines involved in visual perception. The discoveries made in cognitive neuroscience laboratories have helped us better understand the perception of everyday visual phenomena, including the perception of art. In addition, cognitive neuroscientists have provided techniques and instruments which are valuable in the study of the psychology of art. In this paper I give an overview of the past research which has advanced our understanding of how people process visual art. In addition the results of a preliminary study of an accomplished artist as he drew a portrait while in an MRI machine are presented.
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Keywords: Brain; art; artist's brain; facial perception; fusiform gyrus; neuroscience; parietal; visual cognition

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557, USA.

Publication date: August 1, 2000

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