Medial prefrontal cortex involvement in aesthetic appreciation of paintings: a tDCS study

Zaira Cattaneo, Chiara Ferrari, Susanna Schiavi, Ivan Alekseichuk, Andrea Antal, Marcos Nadal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Among the brain regions involved in the aesthetic evaluation of paintings, the prefrontal cortex seems to play a pivotal role. In particular, consistent neuroimaging evidence indicates that activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (mainly in the left hemisphere) and in medial and orbital sectors of the prefrontal cortex is linked to viewing aesthetically pleasing images. In this study, we focused on the contribution of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) in mediating aesthetic decisions about paintings. We found that enhancing excitability in this region via anodal tDCS led participants to judge paintings as more beautiful. Although significant, the effects were moderate, possibly due to the neutral affective value of the artworks we used, suggesting that activity in mPFC may be critically dependent on the affective impact of the paintings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-76
Number of pages12
JournalCognitive Processing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a PRIN Grant (2015WXAXJF) by Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research to Z.C and by Mondino Foundation “Ricerca Corrente” funds.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Beauty
  • Brain stimulation
  • Medial prefrontal cortex
  • Neuroaesthetics
  • tDCS


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