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Time-course analysis of cognitive evaluation in aesthetic appreciation
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  • Sunny Bairisal,
  • Greeshma Sharma,
  • Abhijeet Kujur,
  • Jyoti Kumar
Sunny Bairisal
IIT Delhi
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Greeshma Sharma
IIT Delhi

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Abhijeet Kujur
IIT Delhi
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Jyoti Kumar
IIT Delhi
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Abstract

Aesthetic appreciation is a complex process that needs a cognitive explanation for understanding perceivers’ neural processes while experiencing beauty. The challenge in studying aesthetics lies in integrating neural activity dynamics with source localization to establish a neurophysiological framework of aesthetics experience. This study examines the neural mechanisms that govern aesthetic appreciation of static images and compares the mechanisms involved in the appreciation of images rated as beautiful and not beautiful by participants. In the study, participants rated a series of images on an aesthetic scale while their neural activity was recorded. The Leders’ model (2004) was used as a theoretical framework. Results showed that beautiful images elicited higher cognitive affordance compared to not beautiful images during the early stage of cognition. The analysis of ERP waveforms revealed greater perceptual processing for not beautiful compared to beautiful images. Source localization exhibited activation of the dorsal stream followed by the ventral stream irrespective of the aesthetic content of an image. Aesthetic appreciation of not beautiful images engaged the ventrodorsal stream and local processing, which resulted in a slower Response Time (RT). Evaluative categorization utilized attentional load allocation in frontal and central regions, which was higher in beautiful images. It implies that cognitive evaluation for categorizing higher aesthetic value requires more integrative neural processing compared to categorizing lower aesthetic value. These results suggest that the cognitive processes involved in aesthetic appreciation differ depending on the content of the stimuli and occur in distinct time frames.