Aesthetic Science: Connecting Minds, Brains, and Experience

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Arthur P. Shimamura, Stephen E. Palmer
Oxford University Press, USA, Jan 2, 2012 - Medical - 408 pages
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What do we do when we view a work of art? What does it mean to have an "aesthetic" experience? Are such experiences purely in the eye (and brain) of the beholder? Such questions have entertained philosophers for millennia and psychologists for over a century. More recently, with the advent of functional neuroimaging methods, a handful of ambitious brain scientists have begun to explore the neural correlates of such experiences. The notion of aesthetics is generally linked to the way art evokes an hedonic response—we like it or we don't. Of course, a multitude of factors can influence such judgments, such as personal interest, past experience, prior knowledge, and cultural biases. In this book, philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists were asked to address the nature of aesthetic experiences from their own discipline's perspective. In particular, we asked these scholars to consider whether a multidisciplinary approach, an aesthetic science, could help connect mind, brain, and aesthetics. As such, this book offers an introduction to the way art is perceived, interpreted, and felt and approaches these mindful events from a multidisciplinary perspective.

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About the author (2012)

Arthur P. Shimamura is Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. He investigates human memory and cognition using neuroimaging techniques and by studying individuals with memory disorders. Dr. Shimamura is a founding member of the Society for Cognitive Neuroscience, has been a scientific advisor for the San Francisco Exploratorium Science Museum, and received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship to explore art, aesthetics and brain.

Stephen E. Palmer, is Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. His research and teaching focus is on visual perception, a topic closely related to his color photography. He is the author of Vision Science: Photons to Phenomenology, an advanced, interdisciplinary textbook on visual perception. He is currently working on a new book about color: Reversing the Rainbow: Reflections on Color and Consciousness.

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