We dedicate enormous financial resources and time toward the creation and enjoyment of art. Across a diverse range of manifestations—including music, dance, drama and visual arts—art has been developed by the human species since its early dawn and continues to endure as a critical presence across all cultures. Over millennia, the synergistic coexistence of humans and art has fed an extensive and rich debate on the function of art and the essence of aesthetic experience. This debate has engaged numerous artists, historians, and philosophers, and most recently, neuroscientists. Recent advances in neuroimaging and neurostimulation techniques are enabling us to investigate from “the inside” the cerebral phenomena associated with artistic creativity and the appreciation of art.
Here in the SoBA Lab, we have trained our scientific lens on the neuroaesthetic experience of watching dance. Dance provides particular challenges and opportunities for the field of neuroaesthetics as it is neither represented by static pictures nor is its perception and evaluation restricted to the visual system. Our experiments investigating affective evaluation of dance make use of dynamic visual displays of a body or bodies moving through space, sometimes with the addition of music, and aim to explore the relationship between what we can do with our own bodies, and what we like watching other bodies do. Such questions raise a number of exciting possibilities for better understanding sensorimotor brain regions that link action with perception, such as how affective processes interact with implicit action resonance processes.
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Kirsch, L. P., Snagg, A., Heerey, E & Cross, E. S. (2016). The impact of experience on affective responses during action observation. PLoS One.
Kirsch, L. P., Urgesi, C. & Cross, E. S. (2016). Shaping and reshaping the aesthetic brain: Emerging perspectives on the neurobiology of embodied aesthetics. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 62, 56 - 68.
Cross, E. S. (2015). Beautiful embodiment: The shaping of aesthetic preference by personal experience. In J. P. Huston, M. Nadal, F. Mora, L. F. Agnati & C. J. Cela-Conde (Eds), Art, Aesthetics and the Brain. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 189-201.
Kirsch, L. P., Dawson, K. & Cross, E. S. (2015). Dance experience sculpts aesthetic perception and related brain circuits. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1337, 130-139.
Kirsch, L., Drommelschmidt, K. A. & Cross, E. S. (2013). The impact of sensorimotor experience on affective evaluation of dance. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7:521. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00521
Cross, E. S. & Ticini, L. F. (2012). Neuroaesthetics and beyond: New horizons in applying the science of the brain to the art of dance. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 11(1), 5-16.
Cross, E. S., Kirsch, L., Ticini, L. F. & Schütz-Bosbach, S. (2011). The impact of aesthetic evaluation and physical ability on dance perception. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 5:102.