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Hvidovre Hospital - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital

Brain correlates of aesthetic expertise: a parametric fMRI study

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Several studies have demonstrated that acquired expertise influences aesthetic judgments. In this paradigm we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study aesthetic judgments of visually presented architectural stimuli and control-stimuli (faces) for a group of architects and a group of non-architects. This design allowed us to test whether level of expertise modulates neural activity in brain areas associated with either perceptual processing, memory, or reward processing. We show that experts and non-experts recruit bilateral medial orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and subcallosal cingulate gyrus differentially during aesthetic judgment, even in the absence of behavioural aesthetic rating differences between experts and non-experts. By contrast, activity in nucleus accumbens (NAcc) exhibits a differential response profile compared to OFC and subcallosal cingulate gyrus, suggesting a dissociable role between these regions in the reward processing of expertise. Finally, categorical responses (irrespective of aesthetic ratings) resulted in expertise effects in memory-related areas such as hippocampus and precuneus. These results highlight the fact that expertise not only modulates cognitive processing, but also modulates the response in reward related brain areas.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain and Cognition
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)306-15
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2009

    Research areas

  • Adult, Analysis of Variance, Architecture as Topic, Brain, Brain Mapping, Esthetics, Face, Female, Frontal Lobe, Gyrus Cinguli, Hippocampus, Humans, Judgment, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Nucleus Accumbens, Occupations, Professional Competence, Reaction Time, Visual Perception

ID: 32532955