Neuroesthetics, Neuroscientific Theory, and Illustration from the Arts, by Suzanne Nalbantian
More serious scholars share such an outlook on artistic creation, claiming, for example, that when Virginia Woolf, in To the Lighthouse (1927), connects the lighthouse to the mother figure and thereby evokes “the longterm memory of her mother,” she “was unwittingly acknowledging the limbic underpinnings of her art” (Nalbantian 2008, 363).
Neuroaesthetics received its formal definition in 2002 as the scientific study of the neural bases for the contemplation and creation of a work of art. The neuroscientist Jean-Pierre Changeux has been engaged in this area of study since l988, notably in his book Raison et Plaisir of 1994. Currently, this field at large is in search of a neuronal interpretation of creativity. To this end, Changeux's neuronal workspace model (1998), as presented again in his 2002 book The Physiology of Truth, offers a comprehensive scheme for understanding the epigenetic dynamism of the artistic process and its network architecture. From her perspective in the humanities, the literary scholar Suzanne Nalbantian conjoins a few selected literary and artistic works of the twentieth-century to illustrate in concrete terms aspects of Changeux's workspace model. This interdisciplinary collaboration helps to focus on the memory component in the creative process of higher-level synthetic brain functioning.