SEJ (Sexo, Educación y Juicio estético)

TÍTULO COMPLETO: La influencia del género y de la educación artística en el juicio estético: Respuestas comportamentales y cerebrales

INVESTIGADOR PRINCIPAL: Enric Munar Roca

DURACIÓN: De octubre de 2007 a junio de 2011.

OBJETIVOS INICIALES:

El proyecto se plantea el estudio de los procesos cognitivos implicados en el juicio estético y los correlatos neuronales de los mismos. Siguiendo una metodología ensayada con éxito anteriormente, la vía elegida es el análisis de las respuestas cerebrales y comportamentales de los participantes ante diferentes estímulos visuales.

Los objetivos concretos incluyen:

1) Realizar experimentos que revelen los correlatos neuronales del juicio estético de estímulos visuales mediante la técnica de la magnetoencefalografía (MEG).

2) Contrastar, mediante pruebas de MEG, las diferencias existentes en dicha actividad cerebral entre grupos de participantes con distinto sexo y distinta educación artística.

3) Profundizar en el conocimiento de los procesos cognitivos implicados en el juicio estético mediante pruebas de reconocimiento con grupos de participantes de distinto sexo y distinta educación artística.

4) Contribuir a la realización de un modelo general explicativo de los procesos cognitivos implicados en el juicio estético por medio de la discusión de los resultados obtenidos en los objetivos 2 y 3.

RESUMEN FINAL:

A nivel conceptual y de revisión se trabajó en: (1) neuroestética y neuroimagen; (2) estética desde la perspectiva evolutiva. A nivel empírico, usando MEG, fMRI y métodos de psicología experimental con tareas de apreciación estética, los principales logros fueron: (a) una mayor activación parietal con estímulos bellos desde los 300 ms, relacionada con el uso del espacio; (b) una mayor lateralización derecha de esas zonas en hombres; (c) una mayor sincronización neural frente a obras estéticas; (d) una mayor activación del cortex orbitofrontal lateral derecho frente a obras no estéticas; (e) descartar una relación lineal entre complejidad y belleza, concluyendo que existen 3 factores de complejidad visual y que influyen de forma diferente en la apreciación estética.

Ello da lugar a los artículos: (1) en Spatial Vision (2008) se expone un marco para el estudio de la apreciación estética con técnicas de neuroimagen; (2) en Estudios de Psicología, una revisión de la apreciación estética desde la perspectiva evolutiva; (3) en PNAS (2009) que recibió destacados comentarios y la invitación para un nuevo artículo sin costes de publicación debido a las numerosas descargas; (2) E-letter en la revista Science (2009); (3) en Empirical Studies of the Arts (2010) se exponen las conclusiones sobre complejidad y belleza; (4) en Brain & Cognition (2011) se hace una prospección de la neuroestática a partir del encuentro de Copenhague; (5) en Perspectives in Biology and Medicine (2011); (6) en Frontiers of Human Neuroscience (2012), se exponen los hallazgos entre sincronización neuronal y belleza; (7) en PloS ONE (2012) donde se muestra una mayor activación del cortex orbitofrontal lateral derecho frente a estímulos no estéticos. Estos resultados se han divulgado en 2 conferencias, 5 ponencias orales y 10 pósters en congresos y encuentros internacionales. En 2011, también fue publicado un capítulo de libro con el título Cerebral Clues on the Evolution of Aesthetic Appreciation en Darwin’s Evolving Legacy, editado por Siglo XXI.

En el marco del proyecto, a finales de 2010 se organizó un workshop con algunos investigadores internacionales en neuroestética: Workshop in Neuroaesthetics, con tres objetivos: (a) exposición de los experimentos realizados y resultados obtenidos; (b) conocer los últimos avances en el estudio de la estética con neuroimagen; (c) establecer una comunicación fluida con el objetivo de crear una red a nivel internacional (publicaciones, proyectos interuniversitarios, intercambio de investigadores, con la finalidad, a medio plazo, de establecer una red formal sobre neuroestética). El resultado que evidencia sus beneficios fue la creación de la web “International Network for Neuroaesthetics”

PUBLICACIONES:

Artículos en revistas científicas:

Munar, E, Nadal, M, Rosselló, J, Flexas, A, Moratti, S, Maestú, F, Marty G & Cela-Conde C.J. (in press). Lateral Orbitofrontal Cortex Involvement in Initial Negative Aesthetic Impression Formation. PLoS ONE

It is well established that aesthetic appreciation is related with activity in diverse brain regions. The identification of the neural correlates of beauty or preference ratings has been the focus of most prior studies. Not much attention has been directed towards the fact that humans are surrounded by objects that lead them to experience aesthetic indifference or leave them with a negative aesthetic impression. Here we explore the neural substrate of such experiences. Given the neuroimaging techniques that have been used, little is known about the temporal features of such brain activity. By means of magnetoencephalography we registered the moment at which brain activity differed while participants viewed images they considered to be beautiful or not. Results show that the first differential activity appears between 300 and 400 ms after stimulus onset. During this period activity in right lateral orbitofrontal cortex (lOFC) was greater while participants rated visual stimuli as not beautiful than when they rated them as beautiful. We argue that this activity is associated with an initial negative aesthetic impression formation, driven by the relative hedonic value of stimuli regarded as not beautiful. Additionally, our results contribute to understand the nature of the functional roles of the lOFC.

Nadal, M. & Pearce, M.T. (2011). The Copenhagen Neuroaesthetics conferences: Prospects and pitfalls for an emerging field. Brain and Cognition, 76: 172-183.

Neuroaesthetics is a young field of research concerned primarily with the neural basis of cognitive and affective processes engaged when an individual takes an aesthetic or artistic approach towards a work of art, a non-artistic object or a natural phenomenon. In September 2009, the Copenhagen Neuroaesthetics Conference brought together leading researchers in the field to present and discuss current advances. We summarize some of the principal themes of the conference, placing neuroaesthetics in a historical context and discussing its scope and relation to other disciplines. We also identify what we believe to be the key outstanding questions, the main pitfalls and challenges faced by the field, and some promising avenues for future research.

Munar E, Nadal M, Castellanos NP, Flexas A, Maestú F, Mirasso C and Cela-Conde CJ (2012) Aesthetic appreciation: event-related field and time-frequency analyses. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 5:185.doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2011.00185.

Improvements in neuroimaging methods have afforded significant advances in our knowledge of the cognitive and neural foundations of aesthetic appreciation. We used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to register brain activity while participants decided about the beauty of visual stimuli. The data were analyzed with event-related field (ERF) and Time-Frequency (TF) procedures. ERFs revealed no significant differences between brain activity related with stimuli rated as “beautiful” and “not beautiful.” TF analysis showed clear differences between both conditions 400 ms after stimulus onset. Oscillatory power was greater for stimuli rated as “beautiful” than those regarded as “not beautiful” in the four frequency bands (theta, alpha, beta, and gamma). These results are interpreted in the frame of synchronization studies.

Zaidel, D.W. & Nadal, M. (2011) Brain intersections of aesthetics and morals. Perspectives from biology, neuroscience and evolution. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 54(3): 367-80.

For centuries, only philosophers debated the relationship between aesthetics and morality. Recently, with advances in neuroscience, the debate has moved to include the brain and an evolved neural underpinning linking aesthetic reactions and moral judgment. Biological survival emphasizes mate selection strategies, and the ritual displays have been linked to human aesthetics in the arts, in faces, and in various daily decision making. In parallel, cultural human practices have evolved to emphasize altruism and morality.This article explores the biological background and discusses the neuroscientific evidence for shared brain pathways for aesthetics and morals.

Nadal, M., Munar, E., Marty, G. & Cela-Conde, C.J. (2010). Visual Complexity and Beauty Appreciation: Explaining the Divergence of Results. Empirical Studies of the Arts 28(2): 173-191.

Although a number of studies have verified Daniel Berlyne’s (1971) predicted maximum preference for intermediately complex stimuli, others have found that preference increased or decreased in relation to complexity. The objective of the present work was to assess whether differences in the kinds of stimuli used in prior studies or in the way complexity was defined could explain this divergence. In the first phase a set of 120 stimuli varying in complexity, abstraction, and artistry was assembled. In the second phase 94 participants were asked to rate the beauty of the stimuli. In the final phase the same participants rated 60 of the stimuli on seven complexity dimensions. We failed to detect any meaningful influence of complexity on beauty ratings for any of the kinds of stimuli. However, our results suggest that there are three different forms of complexity that contribute to people’s perception of visual complexity: one related with the amount and variety of elements, another related with the way those elements are organized, and asymmetry. We suggest that each of these types of complexity influences beauty ratings in different ways, and that the unresolved relation between complexity and beauty appreciation is mainly due to differences in the conception, manipulation, and measurement of visual complexity.

Cela-Conde, C.J.; Maestú, F.; Mirasso, C.; Munar, E. & Nadal, M. (2009). Can fMRI Alone Identify Functional Connectivity in the Brain? Science E-letter.

Reply to Esslinger et al (2009) Neural Mechanisms of a Genome-Wide Supported Psychosis Variant. Science 1 May 2009: 605.

Cela-Conde CJ, Ayala FJ, Munar E, Maestú F, Nadal M, Capó MA, del Río D, López-Ibor, JJ, Ortiz, T, Mirasso C & Marty G (2009)  Sex related similarities and differences in the neural correlates of beauty . PNAS 106: 3847-3852.

The capacity to appreciate beauty is one of our species’ most remarkable traits. Although knowledge about its neural correlates is growing, little is known about any gender-related differences. We have explored possible differences between men and women’s neural correlates of aesthetic preference. We have used magnetoencephalography to record the brain activity of 10 male and 10 female participants while they decided whether or not they considered examples of artistic and natural visual stimuli to be beautiful. Our results reveal significantly different activity between the sexes in parietal regions when participants judged the stimuli as beautiful. Activity in this region was bilateral in women, whereas it was lateralized to the right hemisphere in men. It is known that the dorsal visual processing stream, which encompasses the superior parietal areas, has been significantly modified throughout human evolution. We posit that the observed gender-related differences are the result of evolutionary processes that occurred after the splitting of the human and chimpanzee lineages. In view of previous results on gender differences with respect to the neural correlates of coordinate and categorical spatial strategies, we infer that the different strategies used by men and women in assessing aesthetic preference may reflect differences in the strategies associated with the division of labor between our male and female hunter-gatherer hominin ancestors.

Nadal, M., Capó, M.A., Munar, E. & Cela-Conde, C.J. (2009). La evolución de la apreciación estética. Estudios de Psicología, 30, 3-20.

To conceive that cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying the appreciation of beauty are exclusive to that ability, as well as to assume that they are uniquely human, represents a serious obstacle for comprehending the evolution of aesthetic appreciation. In the present paper, knowledge from diverse fields of study is reviewed in order to overcome traditional limitations and outline a model of the evolution of aesthetic appreciation. Aesthetic appreciation is considered to result from the interaction of cognitive and affective processes. Some of these processes, such as early visual analysis, object recognition in an affective and mnemonic context, representation of its reinforcement value, and some executive functions, appear to have been inherited from our ancestors. Conversely, other processes, including multisensory information integration, spatial analyses, and monitoring one’s own affective state, seem to have been subjected to significant transformations throughout the human lineage.

Nadal, M., Munar, E., Capó, M.A, Rosselló, J. & Cela-Conde, C.J. (2008)  Towards a framework for the study of the neural correlates of aesthetic preference. Spatial Vision, 21: 379–396.

Aiming to provide a tentative framework for the study of the neural correlates of aesthetic preference, we review three recent neuroimaging studies carried out with the purpose of locating brain activity associated with decisions about the beauty of visual stimuli (Cela-Conde et al., 2004; Kawabata and Zeki, 2004; Vartanian and Goel, 2004). We find that the results of the three studies are not in line with previous neuropsychological data. Moreover, there are no coincidences among their results. However, when they are mapped on to Chatterjee’s (2003) neuropsychological model of aesthetic preference it becomes clear that neuroimaging data are not contradictory, but complementary, and their interpretation is enriched. The results of these studies suggest that affective processes have an important role in aesthetic preference, and that they are integrated with cognitive processes to reach a decision regarding the beauty of visual stimuli. Future studies must aim to clarify whether certain methodological procedures are better suited to study any of the particular cognitive operations involved in aesthetic preference, and ascertain the extent to which the proposed framework is compatible with the aesthetic appreciation of musical stimuli.

Capítulos de libro:

Munar, E. & Nadal, M. (2011) . Cerebral Clues on he Evolution of Aesthetic Appreciation en Martínez-Contreras, J. & Ponce de León, A. (Ed.) Darwin’s Evolving Legacy. Siglo XXI (México). ISBN: 978-607-03-0346-3.

Nadal, M., Flexas, A., Cela-Conde, C.J. (2010) La capacidad para la apreciación estética: una evolución en mosaico. En Martín Araguz, A. (Ed.) Neuroestética. Saned SA Ediciones (Madrid – ESP).

Artículos de divulgación:

Munar, E., Nadal, M., Cela, CJ y Maestú, F. (2010). La apreciación estética ¿una actividad ligada al sexo? Mente y cerebro, 43 (julio), 12-21.

Munar, E., Nadal, M., Cela, CJ y Maestú, F. (2011).  Schön ist relativ. Gerhirn & Geist, (January), 26-29.

CONTRIBUCIONES A CONGRESOS:

Talks:

Nadal, M. (2010) Dynamical analysis of beauty versus non-beauty perception. Conference “Complexity and Networks. Neuroscience”. Londres, 19 de mayo de 2010.

Munar, E. (2010). Negative aesthetic impression formation in the laterial orbitofrontal cortex: a Neuroimagin study. 21st Biennial Congress of International Associaiton of Empirical Aesthetics (IAEA) “Aesthetics + Design”, Dresden, (Germany). (Talk)

Nadal, M. (2009). Towards a clarification of complexity’s influence on the appreciation of beauty. Copenhagen Neuroasthetics Conference. Copenhagen (Denmark). (Invited talk)

Christensen, J.F., Munar, E., Rosselló, J., Flexas, A., Marty, G. (2009) Aesthetic preference of dance movements and positions in different cultures and different levels of proficiency. A review of dance styles and perspectives for future paradigms in intercultural experimental dance aesthetics. Copenhagen Neuroasthetics Conference. Copenhagen (Denmark). (Talk)

Nadal, M., Flexas, A., Bustos, P., Munar, M., & Marty, G. (2009) Neural Correlates of Aesthetic Preference: Beginning to Understand Gender Differences. American Psychological Association 117th Convention. Toronto (USA). (Talk)

Munar, E. & Nadal, M. (2009). Three factors in visual complexity. 3rd Iberian Conference on Perception. Guimaraes (Portugal)

Nadal, M. & Munar, E. (2009). Visual complexity and beauty. 3rd Iberian Conference on Perception. Guimaraes (Portugal)

Posters:

Munar, E., Nadal, M., Rosselló, J., Flexas, A. & Cela-Conde, C.J. (2010). Differential brain activity during the negative initial aesthetic impression formation. 33rd European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP), Lausanne, (Switzerland). (Poster)

Munar, E., Nadal, M., Rosselló, J., Flexas, A. & Cela-Conde, C.J. (2010). Differential brain activity during the negative initial aesthetic impression formation. 8th SEPEX Conference. Granada.  (Poster)

Flexas, A., Christensen, J.F., Gut, N., Nadal, M., Bustos, P., de Miguel, P., & Munar, E. (2009) The neural bases of the appreciation of beauty. Differences and similarities between men and women. Copenhagen Neuroasthetics Conference. Copenhagen (Denmark). (Poster)

Bustos, P.M., Christensen, J.F., Gut, N.K., Flexas, A., Nadal, M. & Munar, E. (2009) Response scale choice in neuroimaging and cognitive studies of beauty appreciation. Copenhagen Neuroasthetics Conference. Copenhagen (Denmark). (Poster)

Flexas, A., Christensen, J.F., Gut, N., Nadal, M., Bustos, P. & Munar, E. (2009) The neural bases of the perception of beauty. Differences and similarities between men and women. 3rd Iberian Conference on Perception. Guimarães (Portugal). (Poster)

Bustos, P.M., Nadal, M., Christensen, J.F., Gut, N.K., Flexas, A.& Munar, E. (2009) An exploratory study of diverse methodological factors related with the perception of beauty. 3rd Iberian Conference on Perception. Guimarães (Portugal). (Poster)

Munar, E., Nadal, M., Rosselló, J. & Maestú, F. (2007). Aesthetic Perception Registered by means of Magnetoencephalography. Second Iberian Conference of Perception. Madrid. (Poster)

TESIS RELACIONADAS:

Marcos Nadal Roberts (diciembre de 2012). Complexity and aesthetic preference for diverse visual stimuli. Directores: Camilo J. Cela-Conde y Gisèle Marty.

OTRAS ACTIVIDADES:

Portal International Network for Neuroaesthetics

I Neuroaesthetics Workshop: To be held from the 20th of September to the 1st of October 2010 at the University of the Balearic Islands. PROGRAM

Human Evolution and Cognition Research Group