September 2021
Volume 21, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2021
Investigating the Role of Cognitive Control in Aesthetic Judgments
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ionela Bara
    Bangor University
  • Richard Binney
    Bangor University
  • Richard Ramsey
    Macquarie University
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Partnership
Journal of Vision September 2021, Vol.21, 1940. doi:
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      Ionela Bara, Richard Binney, Richard Ramsey; Investigating the Role of Cognitive Control in Aesthetic Judgments. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):1940.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Aesthetic judgments dominate much of daily life by guiding how we evaluate objects, people and experiences in our environment. Neuroaesthetics is a fledgling field of research that aims to study the neurobiology of aesthetic judgments. One modestly studied aspect of neuroaesthetics is the extent to which automatic versus controlled processing is involved in aesthetic judgments. The study of automaticity is important because it can provide real insight into the structure of underlying cognitive systems, as well as how they differ across different domains, such as between aesthetic and non-aesthetic contexts. The current pre-registered study aimed to examine whether a central cognitive load produces greater reaction time interference on aesthetic judgments relative to non-aesthetic judgments. Ninety-two participants completed both aesthetic and implied motion judgments using a 2-alternative forced choice on paintings describing people or landscape, whilst holding in memory a single letter (low load) or six letters (high load). The results showed an effect of load type on reaction time, such that high load increased response times compared to low load. However, there was no interaction between the load type and the judgment type; instead, the confidence intervals for reaction time interference were almost entirely overlapping between judgments types. Contrary to dominant models in the literature, these findings suggest that aesthetic and non-aesthetic judgments rely on a similar degree on automatic versus controlled processing and the operations of the central executive. Future studies will be required to probe the extent to which such similarities generalise to other types of aesthetic judgments.


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