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Autism and Beauty: Neural Correlates of Aesthetic Experiences in Autism Spectrum Disorder
J Korean Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2018; 29(3): 101-113
Published online July 1, 2018
© 2018 Korean Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Seong Kyoung Park1, Jung-Woo Son2, Seungwon Chung3, Seungbok Lee4, Hei-Rhee Ghim4, Sang-Ick Lee2, Chul-Jin Shin2, Siekyeong Kim2, Gawon Ju1, Sang Cheol Choi5, Yang Yeol Kim6, Young Jin Koo7, Bung-Nyun Kim8, and Hee Jeong Yoo9

1Department of Psychiatry, Chungbuk National University Hospital, Cheongju, Korea
2Department of Neuropsychiatry, College of Medicine, Chungbuk National University, Cheongju, Korea
3Department of Psychiatry, Bugok National Hospital, Changnyeong, Korea
4Department of Psychology, Chungbuk National University, Cheongju, Korea
5Didim Psychiatric Clinic, Seoul, Korea
6SeoulTop Child Adolescent Psychiatric Clinic, Seoul, Korea
7MindDoctor's Clinic for Junior, Seoul, Korea
8Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
9Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seongnam, Korea
Correspondence to: Jung-Woo Son, Department of Neuropsychiatry, College of Medicine, Chungbuk National University, 1 Chungdae-ro, Seowon-gu, Cheongju 28644, Korea Tel: +82-43-269-6187, Fax: +82-43-267-7951, E-mail:
Received October 12, 2017; Revised January 25, 2018; Accepted February 14, 2018.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the neural activity of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) patients is different from that of normal individuals when performing aesthetic judgments.
Methods: We recruited typical ASD patients without savant skills (ASD group, n=17) and healthy controls (HC group, n=19) for an functional magnetic resonance imaging study. All subjects were scanned while performing aesthetic judgment tasks on two kinds of artwork (magnificent landscape images and fractal images). Differences in brain activation between the two groups were assessed by contrasting neural activity during the tasks.
Results: The aesthetic judgment score for all images was significantly lower in the ASD group than in the HC group. During the aesthetic judgment tasks, the ASD group showed less activation than the HC group in the anterior region of the superior frontal gyrus, and more activation in the temporoparietal area and insula, regardless of the type of images being judged. In addition, during the aesthetic judgment task for the fractal images, the ASD group exhibited greater neural activity in the amygdala and the posterior region of the middle/inferior temporal gyrus (Brodmann area 37) than the HC group.
Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that the brain activation patterns associated with aesthetic experiences in ASD patients may differ from those of normal individuals.
Keywords : Autism spectrum disorder; Beauty; Aesthetic experience; Neuroaesthetics; Brain; Functional magnetic resonance imaging.

July 2018, 29 (3)
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