Muuto: What is neuroaesthetics?
Susan Magsamen: In its simplest form, neuroaesthetics is our understanding of how our brain changes on the arts. It’s about looking deeply into how our sensory, perceptual and motor systems work when we create or appreciate art and how these systems engage with the central nervous system around things such as rewards, pleasure, emotion and cognition.
M: How do different art forms help us understand ourselves and the world around us? How do they affect our behavior?
Art, in its many forms, lets us fully express ourselves, process and make meaning from human experiences, big and small. The act of art-making can have a very calming, restorative effect on body and mind, which is important to successfully navigating life's stressors. Art also bonds us to others, building bridges of understanding and empathy between different groups of people.
M: If we zoom in on the aspect of color, can you tell us about the role that it can play within neuroaesthetics and how it can impact our wellbeing?
S: Color is such an interesting topic in terms of the part that it plays in the world, being vital for cues of survival on a basic evolutionary level as hot colors like red, yellow and orange are better seen by the human eye than greens and blues. We also know that our perception of color is highly cultural; a given color might mean something in one culture and something entirely different in another. When we bring color into design, we have to be mindful about what is happening from both a neurobiological perspective as well as a cultural and social perspective.