Cognitive and Neuroscientific Approaches to the Arts (December 2018)

This essay first appeared in the December 2018 issue of Choice (volume 56 | issue 4).


Cognitive science and neuroscience have emerged as frameworks for interpreting the fine arts in the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries. This essay addresses the state of research in this interdisciplinary field, emphasizing the visual arts but also including work on music, theater, dance, design, and literature. Much of this scholarship focuses on aesthetic appreciation, but important work has also focused on the historical, therapeutic, and perceptual understanding of the arts, for example, creative expression by adults, children, and animals. Some research has been informed by scientific experiments that incorporated fine art into the laboratory, but much of the scholarship in this …

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About the author:

Dr. Travis Nygard is associate professor of art history at Ripon College. Dr. Lauren S. Weingarden is professor of art history at Florida State University.