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date: 26 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter introduces the reader to the basic features of the neurobiological system involved in forming a hedonic liking response for sensory objects. In this way it aims to provide nonneuroscientists working in empirical aesthetics with a first primer on the neurobiological mechanisms and computational principles that underlie aesthetic appreciation. It describes how hedonic valuation is primarily computed by neural processes in the mesocorticolimbic reward circuit, and reviews some of the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that modulate these processes, thereby influencing how likable or dislikable a stimulus is experienced to be. It is argued that the neuroscientific evidence presented here suggests that the computational principles driving aesthetic appreciation can only be understood if seen as fundamentally rooted in functional mechanisms that evolved to help regulate adaptive behavior.

Keywords: Hedonic valuation, reward, liking, aesthetic appreciation, neuroaesthetics

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