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Neuroaesthetics 神经美学 剑桥雅思11Test2Passage3阅读原文翻译 剑桥雅思11阅读 […]


Neuroaesthetics 神经美学 剑桥雅思11Test2Passage3阅读原文翻译



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Neuroaesthetics 神经美学 剑桥雅思11Test2Passage3阅读答案解析

剑桥雅思11 Test2 Passage3阅读原文翻译


An emerging discipline called neuroaesthetics is seeking to bring scientific objectivity to the study of art, and has already given us a better understanding of many masterpieces. The blurred imagery of Impressionist paintings seems to stimulate the brain’s amygdala, for instance. Since the amygdala plays a crucial role in our feelings, that finding might explain why many people find these pieces so moving.



Could the same approach also shed light on abstract twentieth-century pieces, from Mondrian’s geometrical blocks of colour, to Pollock’s seemingly haphazard arrangements of splashed paint on canvas? Sceptics believe that people claim to like such works simply because they are famous. We certainly do have an inclination to follow the crowd. When asked to make simple perceptual decisions such as matching a shape to its rotated image, for example, people often choose a definitively wrong answer if they see others doing the same. It is easy to imagine that this mentality would have even more impact on a fuzzy concept like art appreciation, where there is no right or wrong answer.



Angelina Hawley-Dolan, of Boston College, Massachusetts, responded to this debate by asking volunteers to view pairs of paintings – either the creations of famous abstract artists or the doodles of infants, chimps and elephants. They then had to judge which they preferred. A third of the paintings were given no captions, while many were labelled incorrectly – volunteers might think they were viewing a chimp‘s messy brushstrokes when they were actually seeing an acclaimed masterpieceIn each set of trials, volunteers generally preferred the work of renowned artists, even when they believed it was by an animal or a child. It seems that the viewer can sense the artist’s vision in paintings, even if they can’t explain why.

马萨诸塞州波士顿学院的Angelina Hawley-Dolan通过让志愿者观看几组画作来对这一争论进行回应。它们要么是著名抽象艺术家的作品,要么是婴儿、大猩猩或者大象的涂鸦。他们随后需要判断自己更喜欢哪一种。有三分之一的画作没有给出说明文字,并且有许多被错误标注。当志愿者看到一幅受人赞扬的名作时,他们可能认为自己正在观看一头大猩猩杂乱无章的绘画。每一组实验中,志愿者普遍更喜欢著名艺术家的作品,即使他们认为这是由动物或者孩子创作的。似乎观看者能够察觉到艺术家在画作中的想象,哪怕他们无法解释原因。


Robert Pepperell, an artist based at Cardiff University, creates ambiguous works that are neither entirely abstract nor clearly representational. In one study, Pepperell and his collaborators asked volunteers to decide how ‘powerful’ they considered an artwork to be, and whether they saw anything familiar in the piece. The longer they took to answer these questions, the more highly they rated the piece under scrutiny, and the greater their neural activity. It would seem that the brain sees these images as puzzles, and the harder it is to decipher the meaning, the more rewarding is the moment of recognition.

卡迪夫大学的艺术家Robert Pepperell创作了一些既非完全抽象,也非清晰具象的模棱两可的作品。在一项研究中,Pepperell和他的同事要求志愿者判断他们认为一幅作品是多么“有力”,以及他们是否在作品中看到了一些熟悉的东西。他们用于回答这些问题的时间越长,经过仔细观察后给出的分数就越高,并且神经活动就越活跃。大脑似乎将这些图像当作谜题,解读其含义越困难,识别出来的时候奖励也越大。


And what about artists such as Mondrian, whose paintings consist exclusively of horizontal and vertical lines encasing blocks of colour? Mondrian’s works are deceptively simple, but eye-tracking studies confirm that they are meticulously composed, and that simply rotating a piece radically changes the way we view it. With the originals, volunteers’ eyes tended to stay longer on certain places in the image, but with the altered versions they would flit across a piece more rapidly. As a result, the volunteers considered the altered versions less pleasurable when they later rated the work.



In a similar study, Oshin Vartanian of Toronto University asked volunteers to compare original paintings with ones which he had altered by moving objects around within the frame. He found that almost everyone preferred the original, whether it was a Van Gogh still life or an abstract by Miró. Vartanian also found that changing the composition of the paintings reduced activation in those brain areas linked with meaning and interpretation.

在一项相似的研究中,多伦多大学Oshin Vartanian要求志愿者比较原作与在作品框架内移动物品后的作品。他发现,几乎每个人都更加喜欢原作,不管它是梵高的静物作品,还是米罗的抽象作品。Vartanian还发现,改变作品的布局会降低那些与意义和理解有关的大脑区域的活动。


In another experiment, Alex Forsythe of the University of Liverpool analysed the visual intricacy of different pieces of art, and her results suggest that many artists use a key level of detail to please the brain. Too little and the work is boring, but too much results in a kind of ‘perceptual overload’, according to Forsythe. What’s more, appealing pieces both abstract and representational, show signs of ‘fractals’- repeated motifs recurring in different scales. Fractals are common throughout nature, for example in the shapes of mountain peaks or the branches of trees. It is possible that our visual system, which evolved in the great outdoors, finds it easier to process such patterns.

在另一项实验中,利物浦大学的Alex Forsythe分析了不同艺术作品的视觉复杂性。她的研究结果表明,许多艺术家会使用一定程度的细节来取悦大脑。根据Forstythe的观点,细节太少的话,作品会无聊,但太多了的话又会造成某种认知过载。此外,吸引人的作品,无论是抽象的还是具象的,都展现出“分形”的迹象-重复的图形以不同的比例重现。分形在自然界中十分常见,例如山峰或者树木枝杈的形状。我们在户外进化出来的视觉系统很有可能觉得处理这种模式更为简单。


It is also intriguing that the brain appears to process movement when we see a handwritten letter, as if we are replaying the writer’s moment of creation. This has led some to wonder whether Pollock’s works feel so dynamic because the brain reconstructs the energetic actions the artist used as he painted. This may be down to our brain’s ‘mirror neurons’, which are known to mimic others’ actions. The hypothesis will need to be thoroughly tested, however. It might even be the case that we could use neuroaesthetic studies to understand the longevity of some pieces of artwork. While the fashions of the time might shape what is currently popular, works that are best adapted to our visual system may be the most likely to linger once the trends of previous generations have been forgotten.



It’s still early days for the field of neuroaesthetics – and these studies are probably only a taste of what is to come. It would, however, be foolish to reduce art appreciation to a set of scientific laws. We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the style of a particular artist, their place in history and the artistic environment of their time. Abstract art offers both a challenge and the freedom to play with different interpretations. In some ways, it’s not so different to science, where we are constantly looking for systems and decoding meaning so that we can view and appreciate the world in a new way.


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