Evolutionary Neurobiology and Aesthetics

Smith study on how some evolutionary aspects might relate to aesthetic evaluations.

  • Sensory system is tuned to react unexpected; unexpected inputs leads high arousal state and that might be basis for aesthetics of modern: shock of new
  • Savannah-like landscapes with water, large trees, semi-open space, changes in elevation, and some complexity is preferred across different cultures; environments of hunter-gatherers
  • Also landscapes with mystery (what’s behind that hill) seems to have cross-cultural appeal; they appeal humans inborn thirst for knowledge
  • Bases of beauty and ugliness comes from inborn functions of mate selection
  • Appreciation of symmetry relates to our bodies: they are symmetric. Sense of harmony have also bodily bases — it relates to pulse.
  • Complexity appeals to our thirst of knowledge
  • Aesthetic preferences have plausible evolutionary origins, but that does not exclude that interactions with environment will shape aesthetic preferences

Smith, C. U. M. (2005). Evolutionary Neurobiology and Aesthetics. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 48 (1). http://muse.jhu.edu/demo/perspectives_in_biology_and_medicine/v048/48.1smith.pdf

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