BEAUTY IS IN THE BRAIN. OR ISN'T
a meta-analysis of 49 brain imaging studies finds that different parts of the brain are involved in the appreciation of the visual beauty of arts and of faces. there's no 'beauty centre'
this story was in episode 3 #art #beauty #faces #fMRI #meta-analysis
the error bar says
in case relationship breakups and the brain basis of loneliness weren't enough to bring you down, Scientific American reviews a brain imaging study published in October last year, concluding that there is no 'beauty centre' in the brain
the researcher team from China, Germany and Scotland, searched for all of the published studies that had scanned peoples' brains while they were looking at beautiful things like art, or people's faces, and compared them to less-beautiful things
comparing beautiful and less-beautiful things in each study had resulted in some areas of the brain being more active than others
combining all the faces and all the arts studies revealed two regions of common responsiveness - one for faces and one for arts
the face beauty region was in the prefrontal cortex - that's an important part of the brain that we heard about in the last episode to do with obsessive compulsive behaviours
the art beauty region was, err, also in the prefrontal cortex, but a slightly different location
there was no overlap at all - there is no 'beauty' region in the brain
is there really no brain area for beauty?
no, sorry. and the study seems to be quite sensible and reliable, statistically-speaking
but if you really want to find a brain area for beauty - if that will make you happy - then you can cling on to some unavoidable drawbacks of this kind of meta-analysis:
the meta-analysis is only as good as the individual studies that were included in it, and no specific assessment of study quality was reported
and the meta-analysis was based only on the peak activations in each study, rather than all of the raw data. if you need there to be a common brain area for beauty, then you can hope that all the missing brain activity would somehow sum up to create a brain blob for beauty