British scientists say that beauty may lie in the eye of the beholder, but more accurately it could well be an inch or so behind it.
University College London researchers say the medial orbito-frontal cortex - an area of the brain just behind the eyes - is the part of the brain that lights up when we encounter something beautiful, no matter what our tastes.
AdvertisementBrain expert Semir Zeki asked 21 young men and women to rate the beauty of a selection of paintings and pieces of music. Their brains were scanned as they viewed and listened to them.
The study revealed the medial orbito-frontal cortex was more active when the subjects were looking at or listening to something they really liked.Almost anything can be considered art but we argue that only creations whose experience correlates with activity in the medial orbito-frontal cortex would fall into the classification of beautiful art," the Daily Mail quoted Professor Zeki as saying.
"A painting by Francis Bacon may have great artistic merit but may not qualify as beautiful.
"The same can be said for some of the more "difficult" classical composers - to someone who finds rock music more rewarding and beautiful, we would expect to see greater activity in the brain region when listening to Van Halen than when listening to Wagner," he added.
The study has been published in the journal PLoS One.