Neuropsychopharmacological aesthetics: A theoretical consideration of pharmacological approaches to causative brain study in aesthetics and art

Blanca Thea Maria Spee, Tomohiro Ishizu, Helmut Leder, Jan Mikuni, Hideaki Kawabata, Matthew Pelowski

Recent developments in neuroaesthetics have heightened the need for causative approaches to more deeply understand the mechanism underlying perception, emotion, and aesthetic experiences. This has recently been the topic for empirical work, employing several causative methods for changing brain activity, as well as comparative assessments of individuals with brain damage or disease. However, one area of study with high potential, and indeed a long history of often nonscientific use in the area of aesthetics and art, employing psychopharmacological chemicals as means of changing brain function, has not been systematically utilized. This chapter reviews the literature on this topic, analyzing neuroendocrinological (neurochemical) approaches and mechanisms that might be used to causatively study the aesthetic brain. We focus on four relevant neuromodulatory systems potentially related to aesthetic experience: the dopaminergic, serotonergic, cannabinoid, and the opioidergic system. We build a bridge to psychopharmacological methods and review drug-induced behavioral and neurobiological consequences. We conclude with a discussion of hypotheses and suggestions for future research.

Vienna Cognitive Science Hub, Department of Cognition, Emotion, and Methods in Psychology
External organisation(s)
Keio University
Volume 237, 2018
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
501001 General psychology, 501011 Cognitive psychology
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