The role of inhibitory and disinhibitory processes in the brain in the formation of esthetic judgement

Scholars in the humanities continue to resist the possible applications of the cognitive neurosciences to the understanding of cultural phenomena.  No rigorous effort has been made to bring recent developments in the study of the neural substrate of the relationship between emotional and motor responses to the understanding of the visual arts. Recent work on the phenomenon of embodied simulation supplements older theories of empathy and felt bodily emulation of what is seen (or even implied) in a visual work of art. The further question of the cortical monitoring of autonomic responses to visual phenomena has begun to receive attention from neuroscientists, but remains neglected by students of visual images.  At STIAS I will bring my researches in this area to a close by considering the role of inhibitory and disinhibitory processes in the brain in the formation of esthetic judgement, and lay the groundwork for research into new therapeutic possibilities of motor rehabilitation through looking.

Project leader(s):
  • David Freedberg (Columbia)