Art and brain: insights from neuropsychology, biology and evolution


Dr D. W. Zaidel, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), 405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563, USA. E:


Art is a uniquely human activity associated fundamentally with symbolic and abstract cognition. Its practice in human societies throughout the world, coupled with seeming non-functionality, has led to three major brain theories of art. (1) The localized brain regions and pathways theory links art to multiple neural regions. (2) The display of art and its aesthetics theory is tied to the biological motivation of courtship signals and mate selection strategies in animals. (3) The evolutionary theory links the symbolic nature of art to critical pivotal brain changes in Homo sapiens supporting increased development of language and hierarchical social grouping. Collectively, these theories point to art as a multi-process cognition dependent on diverse brain regions and on redundancy in art-related functional representation.