Brain and art through the ages

Updated 3:48 PM ET, Fri September 14, 2012
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In Spain's Tito Bustillo Cave, scientists found these horse paintings overlaying older red paintings, which could be 29,000 years or older. Courtesy Rodrigo De Balbin Behrmann
This Egyptian wall painting, from 1350 BC, is an example of how artists have long been drawing outlines around figures of people and animals. Getty Images
Leonardo da Vinci took advantage of the differences in the human central and peripheral visual systems to create a dynamic smile in the "Mona Lisa." AFP/Getty Images
This is a simulation by Margaret Livingstone of what you perceive when you view the "Mona Lisa" in your peripheral vision, on the left and middle, and straight-on. Note how the smile changes. Courtesy Margaret Livingstone
In "Impression Sunrise" by Claude Monet, circa 1873, the artist makes the sun look unusually bright by choosing an orange with the same luminance as the background, says Margaret Livingstone of Harvard University. musee Marmottan Monet/Bridgeman Giraudon Presse
Impressionistic portraits such as this by Pierre-Auguste Renoir may be have particular emotional appeal because of the blurriness or patchiness of the face. Research has shown that blurry images may connect more directly with the emotional centers of the brain than normal ones. AFP/Getty Images
Pablo Picasso's "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" from 1907 may be especially pleasing to the eye because it exaggerates human forms, showing influences of the cubism movement. AFP/Getty Images
Semir Zeki, professor of neuroesthetics at University College London, created this sculpture "Squaring the Circle." Projecting colored lights on the hanging object creates the illusion of depth. Courtesy Semir Zeki