Learning Center
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out

HUL 211 Aesthetics in object perception and memory


Object Perception and Memory Lecture Series

More Info
									Aesthetics in object perception and

           Snehlata Jaswal

Aesthetics deals with the nature of beauty, and with the creation
and appreciation of it. More scientifically, it is the study of sensori-
emotional values linked with stimuli that we find appealing. Scholars
in the field define aesthetics as "critical reflection art, culture and

Essentially, it is a ‘personal response’ to perceptions.

                                              HUL 211 OBJECT PERCEPTION AND MEMORY
             Zeki (1998): Art and the brain
• ‘Artists are neurologists, studying the brain with techniques that are
  unique to them and reaching interesting but unspecified conclusions
  about the organization of the brain’
• His research has shown differential processing of form, colour, and
  motion, in different modules of the brain, and to different time scales.
  But, massive feedback from ‘higher’ to ‘lower’ centres suggests that
  vision, far from being a passive reception of ‘what’s out there’, is an
  active search for ‘what’s important’ to the organism, based on
  expectations and prior experience
He proposes two phenomena that are important in aesthetics:
• Perceptual constancy: A great deal of parallel distributed processing is
  needed in order to create perceptual constancy from the chaos of
  sensory inputs, and most of this processing is unconscious.
• Abstraction: The ability of the artist to abstract the ‘essential features’
  of an image and discard redundant information is essentially identical
  to what the visual areas themselves have evolved to do.
 Neurological Theory of Aesthetic Experience
Ramachandran and Hirstein (1999) propose eight ‘laws of artistic
experience’ thus exposing the ‘deep structure’ of art:

1.   Peak shift
2.   Grouping
3.   Heightened activity in a single dimension
4.   Extraction of contrast
5.   Perceptual problem solving
6.   Having a generic viewpoint; abhorrence of unique vantage points
7.   Detection and use of metaphors (similarities)
8.   Symmetry

Note that their laws do not include ‘originality’ !
       Ishai, Fairhall, and Pepperell (2007)
Studied identification and aesthetic appeal of objects in clear classic art as
compared to ‘indeterminate’ images. After making an object recognition
decision, subjects had a couple of seconds to view each painting before rating
its aesthetic affect. As some art works can be strongly, yet negatively affective,
the subjects were not asked to report whether the affect was positive or
negative, but to rate its strength.

Response latencies were significantly longer for indeterminate images and
subjects perceived recognizable objects in only 24% of these paintings.

Although the aesthetic affect rating of all paintings was similar, judgement
latencies for the indeterminate paintings were significantly longer.

A surprise memory test revealed that:
• more representational than indeterminate paintings were remembered
• affective strength increased the probability of subsequent recall

Results suggest that perception and memory of art depend on semantic
aspects, whereas, aesthetic effect depends on formal visual features.
     Ishai, Fairhall, and Pepperell (2007)

Fig. 1. Examples of art paintings used in the experiments. (Left) Detail from The
Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo. Only one subject rated this painting as very
affective. (Right) Succulus by Robert Pepperell. This indeterminate image was rated
by 20% of the subjects as containing familiar objects and by 18% of the subjects as
a very affective painting.
                            Kirk (2008)
Kirk (2008)used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to
investigate the relationship between aesthetic judgment and images of
objects in their normal contextual setting versus images of objects in
abnormal contextual settings and the underlying brain activity.

Effects of context on aesthetic judgment modulates different memory

Aesthetic judgment (regardless of context) recruits medial and lateral
orbito-frontal cortex.

Visual cortical areas traditionally associated with the processing of
visual features are recruited in normal contexts (irrespective of aesthetic

Prefrontal areas are significantly more engaged when objects are
viewed in unaccustomed settings.
The orbito-frontal cortex
         Thank you


To top