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Yang, Taoxi; Silveira, Santa; Formuli, Arusu; Paolini, Marco; Poeppel, Ernst; Sander, Tilmann; Bao, Yan (17. April 2019): Aesthetic Experiences Across Cultures: Neural Correlates When Viewing Traditional Eastern or Western Landscape Paintings. In: Frontiers in Psychology, Vol. 10, 798: pp. 1-10
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Abstract

Compared with traditional Western landscape paintings, Chinese traditional landscape paintings usually apply a reversed-geometric perspective and concentrate more on contextual information. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we discovered an intracultural bias in the aesthetic appreciation of Western and Eastern traditional landscape paintings in European and Chinese participants. When viewing Western and Eastern landscape paintings in an fMRI scanner, participants showed stronger brain activation to artistic expressions from their own culture. Europeans showed greater activation in visual and sensory-motor brain areas, regions in the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), and hippocampus when viewing Western compared to Eastern landscape paintings. Chinese participants exhibited greater neural activity in the medial and inferior occipital cortex and regions of the superior parietal lobule in response to Eastern compared to Western landscape paintings. On the behavioral level, the aesthetic judgments also differed between Western and Chinese participants when viewing landscape paintings from different cultures; Western participants showed for instance higher valence values when viewing Western landscapes, while Chinese participants did not show this effect when viewing Chinese landscapes. In general, our findings offer differentiated support for a cultural modulation at the behavioral level and in the neural architecture for high-level aesthetic appreciation.