Model looking at a painting
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Brain and beauty: What makes us fall in love with art?

When Eric Kandel looks at a beautiful painting he does more than consider its artistic value. The Nobel Prize winner and renowned neuropsychiatrist is also contemplating how the rest of us look at art.

In his book The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, Dr Kandel explores the science behind our emotional responses to works of art.

In Klimt's painting Judith, for example, the gold surface and soft rendering of the body trigger the release of dopamine, activating pleasure circuits, he says. The repetitive pattern stimulates serotonin, which regulates sleep. And Dr Kandel says the combination of the two so intrigues us.

Produced for the BBC by Anna Bressanin; camera by Daniel Marracino. Filmed at the Neue Galerie in New York

  • 14 Feb 2013
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