Wednesday 26 August 2009

Research Bulletin: Neuroaesthetics

In discussing the psychology of fiction, one inevitably wanders into the realm of aesthetics. Books, as art, are appreciated by their readers and understanding this appreciation can be an enlightening undertaking. Recently, a volume has been published surveying the exciting new area of neuroaesthetics, or neuroscience approaches to understanding aesthetics. Edited by Dr. Oshin Vartanian and Dr. Martin Skov, and published by Baywood, this collection provides a fascinating and broad survey of the field, from many of its experts. The chapter perhaps most of interest to our readers, on the neuroaesthetics of literary reading, was written by David Miall, a contributor to this site.

My own thoughts on this book appear on the back cover (let me assure readers that I do not receive any royalties from sales, so there is no conflict of interest!), but I will repeat them here:

"Skov and Vartanian have assembled an impressive volume on the rapidly burgeoning field of neuroaesthetics. The contributions cover a broad range of topics—from visual art to music, patient studies to neuroimaging approaches—while providing an exhaustive and deeply considered treatment of each. Being a relatively young field, neuroaesthetic research consists of a manageable body of knowledge surrounded by a vast and compelling array of questions. This book provides readers with a detailed map of the available research findings and sketches out the promising unknown territories in a way that is certain to fascinate and excite."

You can read the first chapter of this interesting volume here, and read Dr. Skov’s musing on the topic and the book here. Copies can be purchased here.

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