Djebbara, Z., Fich, L. B. and Vecchiato, G. (2022) ‘Making Sense of Space: The neuroaesthetics of architecture’, in Skov, M. and Nadal, M. (eds) The Routledge International Handbook of Neuroaesthetics. 1st ed. London: Routledge.
In this chapter, we provide a review of the state-of-the-art neuroaesthetics of the built environment. Assuming varying levels of neuroscientific knowledge with the readers, we commence with a brief introduction to the two main methods in neuroaesthetics, namely electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). To ensure an in-depth understanding of what types of questions these methods may answer, we briefly discuss the limitations of each method before reviewing the selected studies. The review commences with studies of landscapes and urban spaces followed by geometry-centered and body-centered studies and finally interiors. As we unpack the individual findings, we note what regions of the brain are involved and what tasks were performed to understand to what extent the brain is context sensitive. We find a considerable variation in brain regions to be involved, suggesting that the built environment affects global brain dynamics under different tasks. On this basis, we propose a set of regions to be involved to a larger extent, which in turn may form regions of interest in future studies of neuroaesthetics of the built environment. Finally, we suggest some major challenges facing the neuroaesthetics of architecture and point towards a potential direction for further research.