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Experimental aesthetic: neurobiological bases of the expressive power of art, cinema and theater between the creative process and beholders’ response.
Universita degli Studi di Parma
Department of Medicine & Surgery – Unit of Neuroscience, University of Parma. Via Volturno, 39/E 43121 Parma, Italy
Prof. Antonio Mutti
Prof. Vittorio Gallese
Type of Research Project
- Basic science
What is the background of the project?
Before the advent of photography, artists relied on mirrors to paint their self-portraits. As a result, the left side of the artist’s face was painted on the left side of the canvas, contrary to portraits, in which the left side of the face was painted on the right side of the canvas. Several studies have shown that the left side of the face is more expressive than the right, which may be explained by the dominance of the right hemisphere of the brain in the processing and expression of emotions. In addition, humans generally exhibit a gaze bias for the left visual field (i.e the left-side of face). In turn, self-portraits before the 19th century present the most expressive part the artist’s face to the biased, left visual field of the observer.
What is the aim of the project?
The aims of this project are to investigate if naïve participants were able to discriminate between portraits and self-portraits and if portraits and self-portraits received a different evaluation about their emotional content. Lastly whether informations obtained permit to discriminate which one is the portrait and which one is the self-portrait.
What techniques and methods are used?
Stage I stimuli selection: behavioral tests were used to select a group of high-resolution images of portrait and self-portrait. Participants were asked to judge if the displayed work of art was a portrait or a self-portrait; Stage II eye-tracker experiment: Twelve selected portraits and twelve self-portraits together with their 180 degree rotations (forty-eight in total) were shown twice to thirty participants while their visual scan-patterns were recorded. Participants observed each work of art for six seconds and rated the emotional intensity of the faces depicted in the paintings.
What is the role of the student?
- The student will observe the practical experiments but will be highly involved in the analysis of the results
- The tasks will be done under supervision
What are the tasks expected to be accomplished by the student?
The student will be able to perform and eye-tracker experiment and to analyze the obtained data. They also will learn the theoretical and methodological background of the eye-tracker technique, specifically in the field of aesthetic and cognitive psychology. Therefore the student will understand with more accuracy and attention all the neurological systems and sub-neural connections involved in behavior and esthetics related to it.
Will there be any theoretical teaching provided (preliminary readings, lectures, courses, seminars etc)
An introductive informal seminar will be held by the research group to describe the different lines of research. Students will receive an extensive preliminary literature about the present project.
What is expected from the student at the end of the research exchange? What will be the general outcome of the student?
- No specific outcome is expected
What skills are required of the student? Is there any special knowledge or a certain level of studies needed?
Knowledge about the use of Microsoft office package
Are there any legal limitations in the student’s involvement
Type of students accepted
This project accepts: - Medical students - Graduated students (less than 6 months) - Pre-Medical students from the American-British system - Students in biomedical fields
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