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The Aesthetic Brain

How We Evolved to Desire Beauty and Enjoy Art by Anjan Chatterjee

8:43am, December 16, 2013


Wind, invisible, as it passes through the wild limbs of a cypress tree somehow takes shape. It's a sight that sneaks-up and often leads one to a stand-still. Van Gogh's brush immortalized the encounter centuries ago, but the phenomenon was familiar well before his time and continues to arrest those willing to pause in a new millennium. What accounts for this experience we vaguely define as "beautiful," this often transcendent appreciation for something so common yet so specific? These might not seem like questions for science, yet an emerging field called neuroaesthetics seeks to understand art and beauty from a scientific perspective, by defining the roots of beauty in the brain.

Chatterjee is a neuroscientist, so readers might expect a mechanistic treatise on beauty constructed from PET scans and

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