The artful mind sexual selection and an evolutionary neurobiological approach to aesthetic appreciation
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Perspectives in biology and medicine. - Chicago, Ill.
, p. 327-340
University of Antwerp
Based on functional imaging of beauty appreciation in art and of beautiful faces, a heuristic model is presented that proposes that beauty appreciation in art is based on a sexual selection mechanism that led to the preference of beautiful faces. Beauty is linked to sexual selection as a sign of fitness. Beautiful traits, like the peacock's tail, are costly and thereby signal superior genetic quality. Mechanistically, beauty is a construct of the brain that links positive feedback of the reward system with hedonic experience, namely pleasure, which itself might be encoded in the orbitofrontal cortex. The context determines whether a stimulus should lead to further approach or withdrawal in order to maintain a hedonic homeostasis. The fact that aesthetic appreciation of art uses the same circuitry as the aesthetic appreciation of faces suggests that there is no special art circuitry in the brain, but that available networks are used for aesthetic appreciation of art.