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Aesthetics by numbers

07 September 2011

PhD ceremony: Mr. R.H.A.H. Jacobs, 11.00 uur, Aula Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Dissertation: Aesthetics by numbers

Promotor(s): prof. J.M.M. Hooymans en prof. A. Aleman

Faculty: Medical Sciences


While much aesthetics research uses artworks as stimuli, we chose to use visual textures, to be able to quantify some aspects of beauty. In all experiments, observers judged visual textures on beauty and other judgments. We investigated the relationships between texture features and beauty ratings. We found that low spatial frequencies, a diagonal orientation of elements, and various aspects of colour lead to higher beauty ratings. In a neuroimaging experiment, we found that the frontomedian cortex and the amygdala were more sensitive to the beauty level of textures during beauty judgments than during roughness or naturalness judgments. From this we conclude that those brain regions are selectively involved in assessing beauty. The amygdalar involvement in assessing beauty may consist of attending to the features that are relevant for beauty. From this, we predicted that observers would focus on different features when judging textures for beauty, compared to judging them for roughness. We found that observers focused more on coloured patches during beauty judgments than during roughness judgments. In short, it appears that we focus on the color information when forming beauty judgments about visual textures. The guidance of attention to these features may be mediated by the amygdala.


Last modified:15 September 2017 3.41 p.m.

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