Neuroanatomical correlates of aesthetic preference for paintings

Neuroreport. 2004 Apr 9;15(5):893-7. doi: 10.1097/00001756-200404090-00032.


A study was conducted to determine the neuroanatomical correlates of aesthetic preference for paintings using fMRI. Subjects were shown representational and abstract paintings in different formats (original, altered, filtered), and instructed to rate them on aesthetic preference. Our primary results demonstrated that activation in right caudate nucleus decreased in response to decreasing preference, and that activation in bilateral occipital gyri, left cingulate sulcus, and bilateral fusiform gyri increased in response to increasing preference. We conclude that the differential patterns of activation observed in the aforementioned structures in response to aesthetic preference are specific examples of their roles in evaluating reward-based stimuli that vary in emotional valence.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Esthetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Paintings*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods