Jacobsen, T., Schubotz, R. I., Höfel, L., & Cramon, D. Y. (2006). Brain correlates of aesthetic judgment of beauty. Neuroimage, 29(1), 276-285.

Brain correlates of aesthetic judgment of beauty

Functional MRI was used to investigate the neural correlates of aesthetic judgments of beauty of geometrical shapes. Participants performed evaluative aesthetic judgments (beautiful or not?) and descriptive symmetry judgments (symmetric or not?) on the same stimulus material. Symmetry was employed because aesthetic judgments are known to be often guided by criteria of symmetry. Novel, abstract graphic patterns were presented to minimize influences of attitudes or memory-related processes and to test effects of stimulus symmetry and complexity. Behavioral results confirmed the influence of stimulus symmetry and complexity on aesthetic judgments. Direct contrasts showed specific activations for aesthetic judgments in the frontomedian cortex (BA 9/10), bilateral prefrontal BA 45/47, and posterior cingulate, left temporal pole, and the temporoparietal junction. In contrast, symmetry judgments elicited specific activations in parietal and premotor areas subserving spatial processing. Interestingly, beautiful judgments enhanced BOLD signals not only in the frontomedian cortex, but also in the left intraparietal sulcus of the symmetry network. Moreover, stimulus complexity caused differential effects for each of the two judgment types. Findings indicate aesthetic judgments of beauty to rely on a network partially overlapping with that underlying evaluative judgments on social and moral cues and substantiate the significance of symmetry and complexity for our judgment of beauty.


Cognitive and Biological Psychology

University of Leipzig
Faculty of Biosciences, Pharmacy and Psychology
Institute of Psychology
Neumarkt 9-19
D-04109 Leipzig


Dagmar Schrödl
Phone: +49 341 97-39570
Email: dagmar dot schroedl at uni-leipzig dot de

Dorit Thieme
Phone: +49 341 97-39540
Email: d dot thieme at uni-leipzig dot de

Fax: +49 341 97-39271