Aesthetic Appreciation: The View from Neuroimaging

Martin Skov

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Our understanding of aesthetic appreciation has undergone a profound change during the past 20 years, as a result of the ability to study the human brain through neuroimaging. A number of findings cast into doubt important tenets of previous theories and models. Specifically, neuroscientific evidence suggests that aesthetic appreciation is not a distinct neurobiological process assessing certain objects, but a general system, centered on the mesolimbic reward circuit, for assessing the hedonic value of any sensory object. Furthermore, neuroscientific research also makes it clear that hedonic values are not determined solely by object properties, but subject to a range of object-extrinsic modulatory factors. This article reviews these findings and discusses how they demand a new experimental approach to aesthetic appreciation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEmpirical Studies of the Arts
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)220-248
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • Aesthetic appreciation
  • Reward
  • Sensory valuation
  • Preference
  • Aesthetic judgment
  • Neuroaesthetics

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