The Neurobiology of Sensory Valuation

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This chapter introduces the reader to the basic features of the neurobiological system involved in forming a hedonic liking response for sensory objects. In this way it aims to provide nonneuroscientists working in empirical aesthetics with a first primer on the neurobiological mechanisms and computational principles that underlie aesthetic appreciation. It describes how hedonic valuation is primarily computed by neural processes in the mesocorticolimbic reward circuit, and reviews some of the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that modulate these processes, thereby influencing how likable or dislikable a stimulus is experienced to be. It is argued that the neuroscientific evidence presented here suggests that the computational principles driving aesthetic appreciation can only be understood if seen as fundamentally rooted in functional mechanisms that evolved to help regulate adaptive behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Empirical Aesthetics
EditorsMarcos Nadal, Oshin Vartanian
Number of pages40
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication dateAug 2019
ISBN (Print)9780198824350
ISBN (Electronic)9780191863172
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Epub ahead of print. Published online: August 2019


  • Hedonic valuation
  • Reward
  • Liking
  • Aesthetic appreciation
  • Neuroaesthetics

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