1st Edition

The Routledge International Handbook of Neuroaesthetics

Edited By Martin Skov, Marcos Nadal Copyright 2023
    596 Pages 61 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    596 Pages 61 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

     The Routledge International Handbook of Neuroaesthetics is an authoritative reference work that provides the reader with a wide-ranging introduction to this exciting new scientific discipline. The book brings together leading international academics to offer a well-balanced overview of this burgeoning field while addressing two questions central to the field: how the brain computes aesthetic appreciation for sensory objects and how art is created and experienced.

    The editors, Martin Skov and Marcos Nadal, have compiled a neuroscientific, physiological, and psychological overview of the systems underlying the evaluation of sensory objects and aesthetic appreciation. Covering a variety of art forms mediated by vision, audition, movement, and language, the handbook puts forward a critical review of the current research to explain how and why perceptual and emotional processes are essential for art production. The work also unravels the interaction of art with expectations, experience and knowledge and the modulation of artistic appreciation through social and contextual settings, eventually bringing to light the potential of art to influence mental states, health, and well-being. The concepts are presented through research on the neural processes enabling artistic creativity, artistic expertise, and the evolution of symbolic cognition.

    This handbook is a compelling read for anyone interested in making a first venture into this exciting new area of study and is best suited for students and researchers in the fields of neuroaesthetics, perceptual learning, and cognitive psychology.




    1 Neuroaesthetics as a scientific discipline: An intellectual history

    Martin Skov



    2 Sensory liking: How nervous systems assign hedonic value to sensory objects

    Martin Skov

    3 The neurobiology of liking

    Eloise Stark, Kent C. Berridge and Morten L. Kringelbach

    4 Disliking: From adaptive disgust to ugliness

    Christoph Klebl, Michael Donner and Indra Bishnoi

    5 The influence of interoceptive signals on the processing of external sensory stimuli

    Alejandro Galvez-Pol, Enric Munar and James. M. Kilner

    6 Neural correlates of visual aesthetic appeal

    Edward A. Vessel, Tomohiro Ishizu and Giacomo Bignardi

    7 Auditory pleasure elicited by music

    Ernest Mas-Herrero

    8 Odour aesthetics: Hedonic perception of olfactory stimuli

    Gulce Nazli Dikecligil and Jay Gottfried

    9 Movement appreciation

    Kohinoor M. Darda, Ionela Bara and Emily S. Cross

    10 The neuroscience of architecture: Beauty and behavior in the built environment

    Alex Coburn, Adam Weinberger and Anjan Chatterjee

    11 Sexual selection, aesthetic appreciation, and mate choice

    Michael J. Ryan

    12 Aesthetic sensitivity: Origin and development of an idea

    Ana Clemente

    13 The evolution of sensory valuation systems

    Esther Ureña and Marcos Nadal


    PART 2: ART

    14 Perception and cognition in visual art experience

    Rebecca Chamberlain

    15 The music system

    Amy M. Belfi and Psyche Loui

    16 Watching and engaging in dance

    Beatriz Calvo-Merino

    17 Making sense of space: The neuroaesthetics of architecture

    Zakaria Djebbara, Lars Brorson Fich and Giovanni Vecchiato

    18 Literature and poetry

    Arthur M. Jacobs

    19 Narrative

    Franziska Hartung

    20 Music-evoked emotions: Their contribution to aesthetic experiences, health, and well-being

    Liila Taruffi and Stefan Koelsch

    21 The health benefits of art experience

    Claire Howlin

    22 Experiencing art in museums

    Aniko Illes & Pablo P. L. Tinio

    23 Context and complexity of aesthetic experiences: A neuroscientific view

    Julia Crone and Helmut Leder

    24 Experiencing art in social settings

    Haeeun Lee and Guido Orgs

    25 Top-down processes in art experience

    Aenne A. Brielmann

    26 Preferences need inferences: Learning, valuation, and curiosity in aesthetic experience

    Sander van de Cruys, Jo Bervoets and Agnes Moors

    27 Neuroscience of artistic creativity

    Oshin Vartanian

    28 Expertise and the brain of the performing artist

    Fredrik Ullén

    29 The evolution of symbolic material culture

    Francesco d'Errico

    30 Neuropsychology of art and aesthetics

    Alejandro Dorado and Marcos Nadal



    Martin Skov is Senior Researcher at Copenhagen Business School and the Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance. His research focuses on understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of sensory liking. He has published extensively on neuroaesthetics, including the book Neuroaesthetics (2009) and an influential series of papers on the conceptual foundations of the field. 

    Marcos Nadal is Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology of the University of the Balearic Islands, Spain. His research is devoted to characterizing the psychological, neural, and evolutionary foundations of aesthetic appreciation. His contributions earned him the Baumgarten Award from the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics and the Daniel Berlyne Award from the American Psychological Association Division 10.

    "Considering how important to us are aesthetic experiences of all sorts—art, music, architecture, food and more—it is remarkable how long it took for early threads of scientific inquiry into their neural basis to start to be woven into whole cloth. This engaging handbook provides a wonderfully comprehensive overview of the current state of neuroaesthetics across modalities, across empirical and theoretical means of investigation and analysis, and across the implications for well-being and health. No serious student of the discipline should be without it."

    Peter Dayan, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics

    "In this very timely and comprehensive volume, editors Martin Skov and Marcos Nadal have brought together a wealth of empirical findings and theoretical points of view on the topic of neuroaesthetics. It’s remarkable that there is so much excellent material to cover, considering that the term neuroaesthetics itself is rather new, and the field is still nascent to some extent. But this handbook will contribute greatly to the future development and consolidation of this exciting research area by bringing together scholars and research themes that fall under its umbrella. Students and established investigators alike will find much to like in the remarkable breadth of topics, covering not only basic sensory processes that contribute to aesthetic experiences, but also research on a variety of art forms, including visual art, music, dance, poetry, architecture and more. It’s the kind of book that I expect we will keep handy on our shelves (virtual or otherwise): to look up a quick fact, to learn about a new area, or to ponder enjoyably on a winter’s night."

    Robert J. Zatorre, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University

    "When I was in grade 9, the National Gallery of Canada spent 1.76 million dollars on a painting of a red stripe on a blue background (Barnett Newman, Voice of Fire). As Canadians, my family was outraged at the misuse of taxpayer money. Twenty years later, having followed my own passion for painting, I found myself giving a tour of the Gallery’s prized collections. I entered the room housing the painting and lost my breath. The artwork hasn’t changed—my brother still thinks it’s a waste of funds—but my experience of it has surprisingly metamorphosed and I now consider it a masterpiece. Meanwhile, the last twenty years has witnessed the maturation of neuroscience as a discipline, enabled by new ways of measuring brain function and new theories that link brains and behavior that have given birth to another surprise: neuroaesthetics. This book brings together the leading experts in this gangly teenager of a discipline, which is still figuring out what kinds of questions it can ask yet full of potential to make real an ultimate promise of neuroscience—to explain what makes us human and why we can find an experience aesthetic." 

    Bevil R. Conway, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health