In a world where it seems that it would be best to go unnoticed, many organisms impudently exhibit their beauty. It could be said that we are surrounded by beauty, so diverse and overwhelming that scientists have tried to study and understand it, and are still trying to do so.
First, by looking for the evolutionary causes of sexual beauty in the process of mate choice and self-perpetuation. Here, scientists necessarily adopt the point of view of each organism and study how beauty is perceived in a species-by-species manner. As Oscar Wilde reminded us, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Then, by putting order, establishing principles, and looking for common patterns, such as symmetry. We find symmetry wherever we look, in the shape of seashells, snowflakes, the coloration patterns of birds, their singing (in this case, temporal symmetry), the human body, etc. Physics postulates that the Cosmos itself is based on a perfect balance of symmetries. Thus, for example, facial symmetry has been proposed as a marker of developmental stability that may be important in human mate choice, with several studies showing positive relationships between facial symmetry and attractiveness. But there are more senses besides the eyes. Research on fluctuating asymmetry-mediated sexual selection has focused almost exclusively on visual signals and has ignored chemical communication despite the fact that many species rely on chemical signals for attracting mates. Could it be that beauty can also be in the smell of the sniffer?
In the above lines, we have appealed to sensory perception, and even more, to the communication and integration of this information that organisms endowed with a nervous system can do. It is recognized that the function of the nervous system is to create, maintain and modify neural associations that ultimately warrant survival and reproduction, but beyond sexual beauty, the brain is also capable of appreciating qualities of perceived objects that procure a sense of pleasure or a feeling of satisfaction. Although a complete understanding of cognitive, behavioral, and memory – such as remembering beauty from stimuli that are not necessarily visual, such as smell – brain functions is not yet within our reach, remarkable advances are being made in the emerging field of neuroscience research. Thus, it is known that a specific region in the brain, the medial orbitofrontal cortex, is activated in front of what we find beautiful or suggestive, whether it is a landscape, a piece of music, or a painting. This is precisely the same region that regulates sensitivity to outcome value and is crucial in decision-making. This opens many other fascinating questions to be answered in relation to beauty that affect a huge variety of research areas. How important is beauty to choice between options? How can beauty perception be influenced? How reliable are beauty signals? What are the consequences of beauty standards for human society?
Special monograph on Beauty in nature. Instructions for the submission of articles.
Deadline for submission: 25 March 2022.
Publication due date: volume 4, 2022.
Submission languages: Catalan, Spanish, or English.
Length: 16,000 – 20,000 characters (including spaces and bibliographical references). For more information, check the Author guidelines.
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