The brains of men and women respond differently to beautiful objects. Read: we're better at it.
A study proves - conclusively - that women and men view "beauty" differently. A group of scientists used magnetic imaging - a process called magnetoencephalography - to look at the brain activity of 20 volunteers "while looking at pretty paintings and ugly pictures of cities," as Reuters puts it. Women, apparently, use their whole brains to absorb beauty, whereas men use their right brains.
What does this mean? Well, for one thing, that women are more capable of appreciating the details in something attractive, where men look at the whole image. And that these differences may have an evolutionary basis, breaking down along the lines associated with labor division amongst hunter-gatherer men and women. While an appreciation of beauty may have been an unintended side effect, it's something that separates us from our ancestors. Says one scientist, according to The Guardian, "The differences between the decorative objects found in Neanderthal and modern human sites support that idea of a 'modern brain' capable of appreciating beauty and its uses in different ways." And where we regard beauty as a largely societally-driven concept, it's interesting to see how ingrained certain perceptions are. While the idea of "beauty" seems to be confined to ideas of shape and color here, it's impossible not to wonder how easily they can be manipulated by outside forces - or how hard we've had to work in order to do so. And if so, the implications of controlling acquired characteristics.
Women appreciate beauty better than men, says study [Guardian]
Men and women see beauty differently [MSNBC]
Beauty is in the sex of the beholder, study finds [Reuters]
Women use the whole brain to enjoy beauty, for men, only half of brain is involved [AP]