Beauty Of Mathematics Activates Same Brain Region As Art And Music
Looking at aesthetically pleasing formula activates the same brain part as appreciating art or music, a new research has found. The findings are hinting towards a neurological basis to beauty.
According to the research, the experience of mathematical beauty has a correlation with the part of the brain called the medial orbito-frontal cortex, identical to that of beauty derived from art or music.
"To many of us mathematical formulae appear dry and inaccessible but to a mathematician an equation can embody the quintessence of beauty. The beauty of a formula may result from simplicity, symmetry, elegance or the expression of an immutable truth. For Plato, the abstract quality of mathematics expressed the ultimate pinnacle of beauty," said prof Semir Zeki, lead author of the paper from the Wellcome Laboratory of Neurobiology at UCL in the press release.
"This makes it interesting to learn whether the experience of beauty derived from such as highly intellectual and abstract source as mathematics correlates with activity in the same part of the emotional brain as that derived from more sensory, perceptually based, sources."
Researchers used a technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) that enabled them to image the brain activity of 15 mathematicians. These mathematicians were told to view total 60 mathematical formulae which they had previously rated in three categories : beautiful, neutral and ugly.
"We have found that activity in the brain is strongly related to how intense people declare their experience of beauty to - even in this example where the source of beauty is extremely abstract. This answers a critical question in the study of aesthetics, namely whether aesthetic experiences can be quantified," added Professor Zeki in the press release.
"We have found that, as with the experience of visual or musical beauty, the activity in the brain is strongly related to how intense people declare their experience of beauty to be - even in this example where the source of beauty is extremely abstract. This answers a critical question in the study of aesthetics, one which has been debated since classical times, namely whether aesthetic experiences can be quantified."
The research is published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.