Uncovering the biological basis of aesthetics

When two people look at the Mona Lisa or a Jackson Pollock painting, they could form completely different conclusions. What makes them either enjoy or dislike the art comes down to neuroaesthetics—the biological study aiming to understand how humans process beauty and art.

Penn Medicine has launched the Penn Center for Neuroaesthetics, which aims to uncover the biological basis of aesthetics. The center, led by Anjan Chatterjee, chair of the Department of Neurology at Pennsylvania Hospital and the Elliott Professor of Neurology in the Perelman School of Medicine, will advance the understanding of human nature and preferences with consumer choices, the principles of design, and the appreciation and production of art. The center assembles an interdisciplinary, University-wide team of experts in neuroscience, psychology, business, architecture, and the arts.

“Even though aesthetics affects countless decisions—from what you wear in the morning to who you date—little of the psychological and neural underpinnings of aesthetics are known. People’s aesthetic choices makes them feel better and affects how others treat them,” Chatterjee says. “This center allows us to bring together, build upon, and advance knowledge of the mysterious world of aesthetic experiences.”

Read more at Penn Medicine News.