The neurobiology of beauty — Semir Zeki
According to the Irish polymath Edmund Burke (1730 – 1797), beauty is “for the greater part, some quality in bodies acting mechanically upon the human mind through the intervention of the senses”.
Semir Zeki explores Burke’s famous definition of beauty from a neurobiological perspective and argues that there is a single fundamental characteristic to the experience of beauty, one which is ‘independent of culture, education and ethnic background.’ ‘Moreover, a neurobiological interpretation of Burke’s “intervention of the senses” also gives a brain-based explanation for why the search for the nature of beauty has been so elusive.’
Professor Semir Zeki is Professor of Neuroesthetics at UCL. He pioneered the study of the higher visual areas of the brain, and discovered the specialization of different visual areas for different visual attributes such as colour, form and motion, and hence the functional specialization within the visual brain. He has recently expanded his work to enquire into the neural correlates of aesthetic and artistic experience. He has exhibited his own art in Milan, is a Fellow of the Royal Society, and a recipient of the Aristotle Medal (2011) among others.