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Publication Detail
More Than Meets the Eye: Art Engages the Social Brain
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    van Leeuwen JEP, Boomgaard J, Bzdok D, Crutch SJ, Warren JD
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  • Journal:
    Frontiers in Neuroscience
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    Copyright © 2022 van Leeuwen, Boomgaard, Bzdok, Crutch and Warren. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Here we present the viewpoint that art essentially engages the social brain, by demonstrating how art processing maps onto the social brain connectome-the most comprehensive diagram of the neural dynamics that regulate human social cognition to date. We start with a brief history of the rise of neuroaesthetics as the scientific study of art perception and appreciation, in relation to developments in contemporary art practice and theory during the same period. Building further on a growing awareness of the importance of social context in art production and appreciation, we then set out how art engages the social brain and outline candidate components of the "artistic brain connectome." We explain how our functional model for art as a social brain phenomenon may operate when engaging with artworks. We call for closer collaborations between the burgeoning field of neuroaesthetics and arts professionals, cultural institutions and diverse audiences in order to fully delineate and contextualize this model. Complementary to the unquestionable value of art for art's sake, we argue that its neural grounding in the social brain raises important practical implications for mental health, and the care of people living with dementia and other neurological conditions.
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