The Nature of Human Beauty
Beauty is defined as a subjective quality of things which makes these objects pleasant to perceive. These objects include sunsets, landscapes, beautiful humans and artistic works of art. Beauty, along with art and beauty, is the most important theme of aesthetics, among the several important branches of psychology. In general, when we talk about beauty, we consider some qualities in objects as beautiful, such as symmetry, smoothness, form, color, proportions, and so on. However, the beauty depends on the person’s personal opinion, preference, or even the culture or society that he belongs to.
Beauty, in the sense of aesthetics used by scientists, has three levels. The first level refers to the basic human beauty like facial symmetry, body shape, and so on. The second level includes the aesthetic quality of physical beauty (e.g., facial symmetry) that we often take for granted. And, the third level includes more complex cognitive qualities of beauty such as mental aestheticians or psycholinguistic judgments of beauty.
Beauty is experienced through the brain regions known as the “amygdala” and the “prefrontal cortex.” These brain areas contain a lot of critical components that help us make the appropriate facial expressions in order to prevent stress, anger, or fear. Some of these facial components help support self-organized critical processes, whereas others are directed towards making quick, modular, and directed judgments about specific facial appearances.
The connection between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex is well-documented in many studies. In the medial part of the amygdala, one finds a collection of neurons that receives information about facial appearances through connections with other brain regions. The connection between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex is also well-documented. In the outer layer of the skin, a large network of sensory neurons provides inputs about the external environment through connections with the retinohypothalamic tract and the periaqueductal grey matter. The connection between the two major brain systems that support the perception of beauty in humans is called the reward pathway.
One of the important functions of this reward pathway is to ensure that our behavior produces the right fitness benefits. The connections between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex provide the necessary instructions for making the appropriate facial expressions and other appropriate behaviors in response to various events. In fact, an attractive face might not work so well if the connections between these brain regions were impaired. It is possible to enhance the strength and flexibility of these connections through the use of certain medications. Thus, a patient who suffers from an impulse to be unattractive because of a diminished reward pathway functioning could use medicinal interventions to treat and improve his/her facial attractiveness.
In conclusion, we do not really know the nature of human beauty. Some people are very attractive, while others are not. The concept of beauty may actually be a psychological invention. Beauty is subjective, and we can certainly agree that there is a standard concept of what is attractive, but there are no hard facts to support this claim. We may, however, agree that there are certain universal traits that are considered to be attractive by most people.