Tactile aesthetics: Towards a definition of its characteristics and neural correlates
Gallace A., Spence C.
The past few decades have seen a rapid rise in the popularity of studies addressing the cognitive and neural correlates of aesthetic judgments in humans. However, despite this growing trend, and despite the fact that artists have, over the centuries, exploited each and every one of the human senses for their communicative purposes, very little research has investigated this important topic from the point of view of the sense of touch. In this review, we highlight for the first time a number of the key characteristics that an aesthetics of touch ought to have. In particular, starting from the artists' and the visual aesthetics points of view, we summarize those empirical findings relevant to the tactile modality. We suggest that while tactile aesthetics has many similarities with visual aesthetics there are also a number of important differences. In particular, the hedonic experience of touch appears to be more intimate, active (requiring the involvement of body movement), and "primitive" than that generated by visual stimuli. Finally, we show that a widespread network of brain areas appears to be involved in the various different aspects of tactile aesthetic experience. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.