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Brain Ethics has a summary of the emerging discipline of bio-aesthetics - using neuroscience to understand art. Much of this seems to be behaviourally oriented: what do we do/ feel when we experience art - and could well apply to simulation.

Brainethics refers to research on representation which "deals with the question of how the brain transforms perceptual inputs into mental representations – images, musical structures, etc." Oddly it appears that such research has been done for visual arts and music, but not for literature.

A further area of study is the link between art and emotion:
"(1) How are emotions emulated by works of art? (2) How does the brain attach an aesthetic value to works of art? "

I suppose you could regard simulation as an 'artistic' process in the same sense: often, simulators try to represent perceptual inputs, and to elicit emotions. Simulations can be done with an 'artistic' intent, but more often perhaps are done in the same spirit with which primitive man drew bison on cave walls: you could draw a direct historical line between these paintings and a US army tank simulator. (Both derive from close study of the object depicted and the way it behaves; both are intended to improve your skills in dealing with the object; both imply a little 'black box' magic - if we put more effort into this, it will bring us luck.)

Most of the references quoted by Brain Ethics are books. (Definition of a book: piece of writing not downloadable over the internet.) However articles by some of the people he lists are available: eg by Semir Zeki.

There does seem to be an enormous amount of research at the moment into the areas of the brain involved in different activities. (eg driving a taxi). The 'naming of parts', as Henry Reed's poem puts it. I think that poem eloquently (dare I say artistically?) makes the point hovering at the back of my mind, that 'beauty/art' transcends attempts to explain it. But, of course, the artists may be wrong.



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