by Patrick Appel

Jonah Lehrer explains "theĀ attempt to interpret art through the prism of neuroscience." A paragraph that caught my eye:

Studies show we're able to recognize visual parodies of people?like a cartoon portrait of Richard Nixon?faster than we're able to recognize an actual photograph of Nixon. Brain imaging experiments demonstrate that the fusiform gyrus, an area involved in facial recognition, responds more eagerly to caricatures than to real faces, as the cartoons emphasize the very features that we use to distinguish one face from another. (In the case of Nixon, cartoonists tend to exaggerate his ski-slope of a nose.) In other words, the abstractions are like a peak-shift effect, turning the work of art or the political cartoon into a "super-stimulus."

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.