Jonah Lehrer on how art heightens natural stiumlus-response. He uses this Picasso quote: "Art is the lie that reveals the truth." -- or, as neuroscience shows, art isn't a complete lie, but a deliberate exageration.
Through careful distortion, he found a way to intensify reality. As Picasso put it, "Art is the lie that reveals the truth."
What's surprising is that such distortions often make it easier for us to decipher what we're looking at, particularly when they're executed by a master. Studies show we're able to recognize visual parodies of people—like a cartoon portrait of Richard Nixon—faster than an actual photograph. The fusiform gyrus, an area of the brain involved in facial recognition, responds more eagerly to caricatures than to real faces, since the cartoons emphasize the very features that we use to distinguish one face from another. In other words, the abstractions are like a peak-shift effect, turning the work of art or the political cartoon into a "super-stimulus."
the job of an artist is to take mundane forms of reality—whether a facial expression or a bowl of fruit—and make those forms irresistible to the human brain.