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Perception, memory and aesthetics of indeterminate art


Ishai, A; Fairhall, S L; Pepperell, R (2007). Perception, memory and aesthetics of indeterminate art. Brain Research Bulletin, 73(4-6):319-324.

Abstract

Indeterminate art, in which familiar objects are only suggestive, invokes a perceptual conundrum as apparently detailed and vivid images resist identification. We hypothesized that compared with paintings that depict meaningful content, object recognition in indeterminate images would be delayed, and tested whether aesthetic affect depends on meaningful content. Subjects performed object recognition and judgment of aesthetic affect tasks. Response latencies were significantly longer for indeterminate images and subjects perceived recognizable objects in 24% of these paintings. Although the aesthetic affect rating of all paintings was similar, judgement latencies for the indeterminate paintings were significantly longer. A surprise memory test revealed that more representational than indeterminate paintings were remembered and that affective strength increased the probability of subsequent recall. Our results suggest that perception and memory of art depend on semantic aspects, whereas, aesthetic affect depends on formal visual features. The longer latencies associated with indeterminate paintings reflect the underlying cognitive processes that mediate object resolution. Indeterminate art works therefore comprise a rich set of stimuli with which the neural correlates of visual perception can be investigated.

Abstract

Indeterminate art, in which familiar objects are only suggestive, invokes a perceptual conundrum as apparently detailed and vivid images resist identification. We hypothesized that compared with paintings that depict meaningful content, object recognition in indeterminate images would be delayed, and tested whether aesthetic affect depends on meaningful content. Subjects performed object recognition and judgment of aesthetic affect tasks. Response latencies were significantly longer for indeterminate images and subjects perceived recognizable objects in 24% of these paintings. Although the aesthetic affect rating of all paintings was similar, judgement latencies for the indeterminate paintings were significantly longer. A surprise memory test revealed that more representational than indeterminate paintings were remembered and that affective strength increased the probability of subsequent recall. Our results suggest that perception and memory of art depend on semantic aspects, whereas, aesthetic affect depends on formal visual features. The longer latencies associated with indeterminate paintings reflect the underlying cognitive processes that mediate object resolution. Indeterminate art works therefore comprise a rich set of stimuli with which the neural correlates of visual perception can be investigated.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Neuroradiology
07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Neuroinformatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:July 2007
Deposited On:22 Aug 2008 13:11
Last Modified:18 Feb 2018 12:40
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0361-9230
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brainresbull.2007.04.009
PubMed ID:17562398

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