Neurological Study Shows That Our Response to Art is Both Universal and Personal

(I have to confess before I launch into this post that I’m about to venture into a territory, ie. neurology, that I know very little about so bear with me…)

According to a new neurological study conducted by a team at NYU, “connecting deeply to a work of art activates the same part of everyone’s brain” (“How can beauty be both personal and universal?“)  Based on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), researchers monitored blood flow to people’s brains when they were exposed to imagery and asked the to rate them based on how strongly they were “moved” by images.  The more they were moved, the more activity in the region of the brain known as the default mode network –“a network of areas associated with inward contemplation and assessment.”

But when the respondents were asked to what degree the art evoked a slew of different emotions, the differences among the respondents emerged.

What’s the “so what” here?  It shows that the relative level of effect of art is universal!  The personal relationship to art is reflected in how the art actually makes us feel.

Now the question is: what was the evolutionary reason for our emotional response to art/beauty?