Monday, July 13, 2009

Neuroscience and Architecture

Area #5 is where the mind gets serious when viewing architecture.

How does the mind see architecture and what predisposes it to like one kind of architecture and not another? Scientists are beginning to explore this aspect of the mind's mysterious workings.

Walter van den Broek (a.k.a "Dr. Shock") is a Dutch psychiatrist blogging and twittering about neuroscience. In a recent blog post he discussed the scientific findings of how the mind views "places," like an architectural project, as opposed to objects, such as faces or furnishings. Although there is little research about this, recent experiments indicate that this visual work is accomplished in the parahippocampal place area (PPA).

The work of this part of the mind is complex and it is also where complexity is managed. Scientists have found out that the activity of the PPA is not diminished by familiarity, is not disturbed by motion passing through the scene and the PPA activity is even greater when viewing novel rather than repeated scenes. And, finally, there is greater activity in this area when the research subjects viewed live complex scenes---such as objects, faces, house elevations---then when they viewed the same kinds of scenes as photographs.

Now this isn't a lot to go on, granted. But there is more to come and science is on the job. There is even a new organization encouraging further research called the The Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture (ANFA). So you could to begin following this research because it is going to be very interesting.

And you thought it was just the mojo of good design that moved the masses. It is probably much more complex and, well, personal.

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