The impact of aesthetic evaluation and physical ability on dance perception

Cross, E. S. , Kirsch, L., Ticini, L. F. and Schütz-Bosbach, S. (2011) The impact of aesthetic evaluation and physical ability on dance perception. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 5, 102. (doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2011.00102) (PMID:21960969) (PMCID:PMC3177045)

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The field of neuroaesthetics attracts attention from neuroscientists and artists interested in the neural underpinnings of esthetic experience. Though less studied than the neuroaesthetics of visual art, dance neuroaesthetics is a particularly rich subfield to explore, as it is informed not only by research on the neurobiology of aesthetics, but also by an extensive literature on how action experience shapes perception. Moreover, it is ideally suited to explore the embodied simulation account of esthetic experience, which posits that activation within sensorimotor areas of the brain, known as the action observation network (AON), is a critical element of the esthetic response. In the present study, we address how observers’ esthetic evaluation of dance is related to their perceived physical ability to reproduce the movements they watch. Participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while evaluating how much they liked and how well they thought they could physically replicate a range of dance movements performed by professional ballet dancers. We used parametric analyses to evaluate brain regions that tracked with degree of liking and perceived physical ability. The findings reveal strongest activation of occipitotemporal and parietal portions of the AON when participants view movements they rate as both esthetically pleasing and difficult to reproduce. As such, these findings begin to illuminate how the embodied simulation account of esthetic experience might apply to watching dance, and provide preliminary evidence as to why some people find enjoyment in an evening at the ballet.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Cross, Professor Emily
Authors: Cross, E. S., Kirsch, L., Ticini, L. F., and Schütz-Bosbach, S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Journal Name:Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN (Online):1662-5161
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2011 Cross, Kirsch, Ticini and Schütz-Bosbach
First Published:First published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 5:102
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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