Neuro Humanities Studies

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Arthur M. Jacobs, Isabel C. Bohrn, Ulrike Altmann, Oliver Lubrich, Winfried Menninghaus, When we like what we know – A parametric fMRI analysis of beauty and familiarity


This paper presents a neuroscientific study of aesthetic judgments on written texts. In an fMRI experiment participants read a number of proverbs without explicitly evaluating them. In a post-scan...

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Arthur M. Jacobs, Isabel C. Bohrn, Ulrike Altmann, Oliver Lubrich, Winfried Menninghaus,

When we like what we know – A parametric fMRI analysis of beauty and familiarity


Source: Brain & Language (124) 1 -
Year: 2013
Topics: Cognition;
Disciplines: Literature; Linguistics;

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This paper presents a neuroscientific study of aesthetic judgments on written texts. In an fMRI experiment participants read a number of proverbs without explicitly evaluating them. In a post-scan rating they rated each item for familiarity and beauty. These individual ratings were correlated with the functional data to investigate the neural correlates of implicit aesthetic judgments. We identified clusters in which BOLD activity was correlated with individual post-scan beauty ratings. This indicates that some spontaneous aesthetic evaluation takes place during reading, even if not required by the task. Positive correlations were found in the ventral striatum and in medial prefrontal cortex, likely reflecting the rewarding nature of sentences that are aesthetically pleasing. On the contrary, negative correlations were observed in the classic left frontotemporal reading network. Midline structures and bilateral temporoparietal regions correlated positively with familiarity, suggesting a shift from the task-network towards the default network with increasing familiarity.

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The Neuro Humanities Studies Network aims at creating a multidisciplinary research community in order to develop and structure a linking platform for neuro-scientific, cognitive topics and humanities.



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