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The Psychology of Art and the Evolution of the Conscious Brain [Hardcover]

Robert L. Solso

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Book Description

Dec 19 2003 0262194848 978-0262194846

How did the human brain evolve so that consciousness of art could develop? In The Psychology of Art and the Evolution of the Conscious Brain, Robert Solso describes how a consciousness that evolved for other purposes perceives and creates art. Drawing on his earlier book Cognition and the Visual Arts and ten years of new findings in cognitive research (as well as new ideas in anthropology and art history), Solso shows that consciousness developed gradually, with distinct components that evolved over time. One of these components is an adaptive consciousness that includes the ability to imagine objects that are not present -- an ability that allows us to create (and perceive) visual art. Solso describes the neurological, perceptual, and cognitive sequence that occurs when we view art, and the often inexpressible effect that a work of art has on us. He shows that there are two aspects to viewing art: nativistic perception -- the synchronicity of eye and brain that transforms electromagnetic energy into neuro-chemical codes -- which is "hard-wired" into the sensory-cognitive system; and directed perception, which incorporates personal history and knowledge -- the entire set of our expectations and past experiences. Both forms of perception are part of the appreciation of art, and both are products of the evolution of the conscious brain over hundreds of thousands of years.Solso also investigates the related issues of neurological and artistic perception of the human face, the effects of visual illusions, and the use of perspective. The many works of art used as examples are drawn from a wide range of artistic traditions, from ancient Egypt to Africa and India and the European Renaissance.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 294 pages
  • Publisher: A Bradford Book (Dec 19 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262194848
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262194846
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 18 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 658 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,291,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Fun to read and encyclopedic in its range, the book should be of interest to scholars in many disciplines.

(V. S. Ramachandran Science)

About the Author

Robert L. Solso is Professor and Head of the Cognitive Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars psychology of art March 3 2010
By J. Robert Wayland - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This author has a good knowledge of his subject. His earlier book is wonderful with insight. This book is a revamp of that material with a summary of some recent research. For my needs the first book is more to my taste.
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read for neuroaesthetics researchers March 3 2014
By 7hyme - Published on Amazon.com
Solso has left us years ago but this book remains as one of his chief contributions to the field.
As a student of architecture and neuroscience I read this book years ago and I am still referencing to it today.
Although he repeats some of the subjects he discusses in his earlier book, Cognition and the Visual Arts, the book presents new information as well. It is easy to follow and engage with the author's arguments.

Especially the chapters on faces and artistic schemata were quite helpful to me encouraging me to explore more.
It's a great introductory book (in fact an internediate level book) written for the broader public from a scientist who has recognized the importance of bringing together neuroscience and art.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book Aug. 2 2009
By Benjamin van Buren - Published on Amazon.com
The author, in reviewing the evolution of consciousness in conjuction with that of art, is stretching the field of cognitive science to unprecedented heights. He champions the emerging idea that cognitive neuroscience can teach us something about almost everything.

Also, I found this book far more useful to my research than books by Dutton, Dissanayake, Arnheim, etc on the same subject
0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not engaging at all May 7 2009
By Mayank Kabra - Published on Amazon.com
I haven't completely read the book, but by skimming through one or two chapters, the book looked very hard to read. The flow isn't set properly which makes it hard to read.
1 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid Jan. 9 2013
By A. John Q. Public - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm an 80-year-old artist with a PhD in experimental psychology from Columbia University and certificates from a five year New York City postdoctoral program in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. My grandmother was an artist. Her home was full of paintings by artists that she bought cheaply and are now worth millions. A great great uncle of mine was and still is a world famous writer and poet. This book was the biggest diappointment of all the books I've read so far. Alas, there was no review of it at Amazon to save me from ordering it. There's need for a competent book with a similar title. I hope this book means the world is closer to having a good one written.

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