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Neuro Aesthetics as Brain Porn

posted Jan 30, 2013, 10:30 PM by Ellen Pearlman

Neuro Aesthetics as Brain Porn

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Simulation of female brain under the influence of an orgasm

Brain sensors such as the Neuro Sky and Emotiv Cap are ubiquitous in certain new media circles as the accessory de rigour for performative and other events. Recently what, and how they show information has been questioned. Functional magnetic resonance  (fMRI) imaging that make up most of the images the public sees are based on different algorithms.  Depending on the mathematics and formulas there can be a wide swing in the analysis. 

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Image by Todd Richards and Aric bills, U.Wl, copyright Hunter Hoffman, U.W.

This certainly debunks what might be really going on for the “Brain Porn” of thefemale brain during orgasm where supposedly 80 regions of the brain show heightened activity. The 3D modeled video was presented at the Society For Neuroscience in 2011, leaving giddy researchers swooning with the possibilities.

However, its more complex than that. The brain has voxels or different regions, and these voxels (or 3D image blocks called volume pixels) contain scores and scores of neurons. All these neurons relate to other neurons on complex and subtle levels, and fMRI’s don’t track all neural activity, just the loudest or brightest ones.

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Increased blood flow and oxygenated particles jumping around

Neuroaesthetics, as separate from the “new aesthetic” seems to have a decidedly white, male European bent with different societies springing up like mushrooms during the rainy season. The idea of the “sublime” and “Paris” being taken as an aesthetic indicator is quite middle class doctor/researcher oriented. I think if they asked a tranny about neuroaesthetics they might take away a whole different affect. The Journal of NeuroAesthetic Theory first emerged in 1997, and by Issue 5 the ubiquitious Hans Ulrich Obrist, the critical theorist’s critical theorist jumped into the fray validating it as a bonified art world issue by asking David Deutsch  ”Can Reality Be Produced?” that included a ticklish poem/musing on, of course,  pornography.

McMaster University in Canada is trying to do some reconstructive work on the subject through their NeuroArts Lab by including “world styles.”  And researchers at the University of California, Berkley have just discovered that the brain is wired to put images into categories.

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The brain organizing visual images as a “continuous semantic space”

The brain organizes visual information in very organized overlapping visual maps that covers a lot more of the brain than was originally thought, ie. not just one area that lights up on an fMRI.

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Images of Alex Huth video of the brain’s “semantic space”

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3D Visualization of the brain processing different images about different things

Alex has put all of this research up on the web for people to play around withhere. This is obviously the beginning of some very exciting and provocative research about visualization, the brain, and semantics and meaning.

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