READING PASSAGE 3
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 27-40, which are based on Reading Passage 3 below.
An emerging discipline called neuroaesthetics is seeking to bring scientific objectivity to the study of art, and has already given us a better understanding of many masterpieces. The blurred imagery of Impressionist paintings seems to stimulate the brain’s amygdala, for instance. Since the amygdala plays a crucial role in our feelings, that finding might explain why many people find these pieces so moving.
Could the same approach also shed light on abstract twentieth-century pieces, from Mondrian’s geometrical blocks of colour, to Pollock’s seemingly haphazard arrangements of splashed paint on canvas? Sceptics believe that people claim to like such works simply because they are famous. We certainly do have an inclination to follow the crowd. When asked to make simple perceptual decisions such as matching a shape to its rotated image, for example, people often choose a definitively wrong answer if they see others doing the same. It is easy to imagine that this mentality would have even more impact on a fuzzy concept like art appreciation, where there is no right or wrong answer.
Angelina Hawley-Dolan, of Boston College, Massachusetts, responded to this debate by asking volunteers to view pairs of paintings – either the creations of famous abstract artists or the doodles of infants, chimps and elephants. They then had to judge which they preferred. A third of the paintings were given no captions, while many were labelled incorrectly – volunteers might think they were viewing a chimp’s messy brushstrokes when they were actually seeing an acclaimed masterpiece. In each set of trials, volunteers generally preferred the work of renowned artists, even when they believed it was by an animal or a child. It seems that the viewer can sense the artist’s vision in paintings, even if they can’t explain why. Robert Pepperell, an artist based at Cardiff University, creates ambiguous works that are neither entirely abstract nor clearly representational. In one study, Pepperell and his collaborators asked volunteers to decide how’powerful’they considered an artwork to be, and whether they saw anything familiar in the piece. The longer they took to answer these questions, the more highly they rated the piece under scrutiny, and the greater their neural activity. It would seem that the brain sees these images as puzzles, and the harder it is to decipher the meaning, the more rewarding is the moment of recognition.
Choose the correct letter, A, B, Cor D.
Write the correct letter in boxes 27-30 on your answer sheet.
27 In the second paragraph, the writer refers to a shape-matching test in order to illustrate
A the subjective nature of art appreciation.
B the reliance of modern art on abstract forms.
C our tendency to be influenced by the opinions of others.
D a common problem encountered when processing visual data.
28 Angelina Hawley-Dolan’s findings indicate that people
A mostly favour works of art which they know well.
B hold fixed ideas about what makes a good work of art.
C are often misled by their initial expectations of a work of art.
D have the ability to perceive the intention behind works of art.
29 Results of studies involving Robert Pepperell’s pieces suggest that people
A can appreciate a painting without fully understanding it.
B find it satisfying to work out what a painting represents.
C vary widely in the time they spend looking at paintings.
D generally prefer representational art to abstract art.
30 What do the experiments described in the fifth paragraph suggest about the
paintings of Mondrian?
A They are more carefully put together than they appear.
B They can be interpreted in a number of different ways.
C They challenge our assumptions about shape and colour.
D They are easier to appreciate than many other abstract works.
Complete the summary using the list of words, A-H, below.
Write the correct letters, A-H, in boxes 31-33 on your answer sheet.
Art and the Brain
The discipline of neuroaesthetics aims to bring scientific objectivity to the study of art. Neurological studies of the brain, for example, demonstrate the impact which Impressionist paintings have on our 31___________ Alex Forsythe of the University of Liverpool believes many artists give their works the precise degree of 32____________ which most appeals to the viewer’s brain. She also observes that pleasing works of art often contain certain repeated 33__________ which occur frequently in the natural world.
|A interpretation B complexity C emotions
D movements E skill F layout
G concern H images
Do the following statements agree with the views of the writer in Reading Passage 3?
In boxes 34-39 on your answer sheet, write
YES if the statement agrees with the views of the writer
NO if the statement contradicts the views of the writer
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this
34 Forsythe’s findings contradicted previous beliefs on the function of ‘fractals’ in art.
35 Certain ideas regarding the link between ‘mirror neurons’ and art appreciation require further verification.
36 People’s taste in paintings depends entirely on the current artistic trends of the period.
37 Scientists should seek to define the precise rules which govern people’s reactions to works of art.
38 Art appreciation should always involve taking into consideration the cultural context in which an artist worked.
39 It is easier to find meaning in the field of science than in that of art.
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.
Write the correct letter in box 40 on your answer sheet.
40 What would be the most appropriate subtitle for the article?
A Some scientific insights into how the brain responds to abstract art
B Recent studies focusing on the neural activity of abstract artists
C A comparison of the neurological bases of abstract and representational art
D How brain research has altered public opinion about abstract art
Answer for Cambridge IELTS Reading Practice Test 1 from Cambridge IELTS 11 (You can see the explanation for the answers on the next page or download it here.
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