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ERP Modulation during Observation of Abstract Paintings by Franz Kline

Sbriscia-Fioretti, Beatrice; Berchio, Cristina; Freedberg, David A.; Gallese, Vittorio; Umiltà, Maria Alessandra

The aim of this study was to test the involvement of sensorimotor cortical circuits during the beholding of the static consequences of hand gestures devoid of any meaning.In order to verify this hypothesis we performed an EEG experiment presenting to participants images of abstract works of art with marked traces of brushstrokes. The EEG data were analyzed by using Event Related Potentials (ERPs). We aimed to demonstrate a direct involvement of sensorimotor cortical circuits during the beholding of these selected works of abstract art. The stimuli consisted of three different abstract black and white paintings by Franz Kline. Results verified our experimental hypothesis showing the activation of premotor and motor cortical areas during stimuli observation. In addition, abstract works of art observation elicited the activation of reward-related orbitofrontal areas, and cognitive categorization-related prefrontal areas. The cortical sensorimotor activation is a fundamental neurophysiological demonstration of the direct involvement of the cortical motor system in perception of static meaningless images belonging to abstract art. These results support the role of embodied simulation of artist’s gestures in the perception of works of art.

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Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Published Here
November 18, 2016