A number of studies have explored visual symmetry processing by measuring event related potentials and neural oscillatory activity. There is a sustained posterior negativity (SPN) related to the presence of symmetry. There is also functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) activity in extrastriate visual areas and in the lateral occipital complex. We summarise the evidence by answering six questions. (1) Is there an automatic and sustained response to symmetry in visual areas? Answer: Yes, and this suggests automatic processing of symmetry. (2) Which brain areas are involved in symmetry perception? Answer: There is an extended network from extrastriate areas to higher areas. (3) Is reflection special? Answer: Reflection is the optimal stimulus for a more general regularity-sensitive network. (4) Is the response to symmetry independent of view angle? Answer: When people classify patterns as symmetrical or random, the response to symmetry is view-invariant. When people attend to other dimensions, the network responds to residual regularity in the image. (5) How are brain rhythms in the two hemispheres altered during symmetry perception? Answer: Symmetry processing (rather than presence) produces more alpha desynchronization in the right posterior regions. Finally, (6) does symmetry processing produce positive affect? Answer: Not in the strongest sense, but behavioural measures reveal implicit positive evaluation of abstract symmetry.
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