found drama

get oblique

science.

by Rob Friesel

I don’t mean to be a bitch but… (via BoingBoing) This article’s conclusions hardly constitute a scientific breakthrough:

One trait believed to differentiate humans from other primates is the ability to appreciate aesthetics. Scientists have suspected that such judgement stems from an area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex To test this theory […scientists…] showed pictures of art and natural photography to eight subjects, asking them to point out the pictures they found beautiful while imaging their brains using a technique called magnetoencephalography (MEG). As predicted, the task activated the prefrontal cortex.

Where do we begin to rip this one up? Let’s start (for example) with the it-comes-as-no-surprise fact that higher order functioning like “aesthetic appreciation” is taking place in the prefrontal cortex. All of the higher order “human” functions happen here. Watching a specific area “light up” on the MEG doesn’t really tell us much right off. Besides, let’s throw a varied, high protein diet into a bonobo for a few thousand more years and you’ll likely see them pointing to the beauty as well.

On that note, who is to say that there is no aesthetic appreciation in a bonobo or chimpanzee or oranguatan? As they have no natural language (that we know of), they have no way of communicating to us what they do/not find attractive. However, as these species (particularly the bonobo) participate in elaborate mate selection behaviors, it may be a safe assumption that they in fact do have some sense of aesthetics. Albeit a rudimentary one — or maybe that’s just a speciesist remark…

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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