The function of art is an extension of the function of the brain, namely, the acquisition of knowledge about the world. The brain is often confronted with situations or views which are open to more than one interpretation. This chapter explores the neurobiological foundations of ambiguity in art, as an aspect of a larger research program through which we seek to understand the reasons underlying the phenomena of aesthetic appreciation. In discussing the link between neurobiology and ambiguity, this chapter concentrates on the visual brain and thus on the visual art. Its aim is twofold: first, to explore what ambiguity tells us about conscious processes in the visual brain. The relationship of ambiguity to consciousness is critical; ambiguous states would indeed not be possible without consciousness. The second aim is to show that the characteristic of ambiguity in art is not special to art. It is rather, a general property of the brain which is often confronted with situations or views that are open to more than one, and sometimes to several, interpretations.
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