Architectural Design and the Brain

Author(s)
Oshin Vartanian, Gorka Navarrete, Anjan Chatterjee, Lars Brorson Fich, Jose Luis Gonzales-Mora, Helmut Leder, Cristian Modrono, Marcos Nadal-Roberts, Nicolai Rostrup, Martin Skov
Abstract

Highlights

•Rooms with higher ceilings were more likely to be judged as beautiful than rooms with lower ceilings.
•Rooms with higher ceilings activated visuospatial exploration structures in the dorsal stream.
•Open rooms were more likely to be judged as beautiful than enclosed rooms.
•Open rooms activated structures underlying perceived visual motion.
•Enclosed rooms elicited exit decisions and activated a cingulate region connected with amygdala.

We examined the effects of ceiling height and perceived enclosure—defined as perceived visual and locomotive permeability—on aesthetic judgments and approach-avoidance decisions in architectural design. Furthermore, to gain traction on the mechanisms driving the observed effects, we employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to explore their neural correlates. Rooms with higher ceilings were more likely to be judged as beautiful, and activated structures involved in visuospatial exploration and attention in the dorsal stream. Open rooms were more likely to be judged as beautiful, and activated structures underlying perceived visual motion. Additionally, enclosed rooms were more likely to elicit exit decisions and activated the anterior midcingulate cortex (aMCC)—the region within the cingulate gyrus with direct projections from the amygdala. This suggests that a reduction in perceived visual and locomotive permeability characteristic of enclosed spaces might elicit an emotional reaction that accompanies exit decisions.

Organisation(s)
Department of Cognition, Emotion, and Methods in Psychology
External organisation(s)
University of Toronto, Universidad Diego Portales, University of Pennsylvania, Aalborg University (AAU), Universidad de La Laguna, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen Business School
Journal
Journal of Environmental Psychology
Volume
41
Pages
10-18
ISSN
0272-4944
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2014.11.006
Publication date
03-2015
Peer reviewed
Yes
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
501001 General psychology
Keywords
Portal url
https://ucris.univie.ac.at/portal/en/publications/architectural-design-and-the-brain(5bfbd84c-04fa-4d27-894f-c22369b8735d).html