Latest Information (March 13, 2020)

Currently, there are no on-site studies involving research participants.
The Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics takes the rapid spread of the Coronavirus / COVID-19 very seriously. As a precautionary measure, we have decided to cancel all on-site studies at our laboratories and at the Brain Imaging Center (BIC). Thank you for your understanding. For further information please see:

Current Information about Coronavirus (COVID-19)


In a joint effort of researchers from the humanities and the sciences, the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics explores who aesthetically appreciates what, for which reasons and under which situational and historical circumstances, and analyzes the functions of aesthetic practices and preferences for individuals and societies.



Language and Literature

The Department of Language and Literature investigates the aesthetically relevant features and the aesthetic perception as well as the evaluation of linguistic utterances and texts, with a specific focus on literature.

Director: Prof. Dr. Winfried Menninghaus


Using a variety of methods, the music department researches the processing, experiencing and evaluation of music, as well as behaviour during its reception.



Director: Prof. Dr. Melanie Wald-Fuhrmann


The Neuroscience Department, works on the neurobiology of hearing, language processing, and music, including the dimensions of aesthetic experience.


Director: Prof. David Poeppel, PhD



Research Groups

Histories of Music, Mind, and Body

The "Histories of Music, Mind, and Body" Research Group seeks to historicize specific philosophical, embodied, and medical understandings of the experience of music.


Dr. Carmel Raz

Computational Auditory Perception

Focusing largely on the auditory modality, the "Computational Auditory Perception" Research Group explores the roles of experience and exposure in creating and affecting our perception of the world.


Dr. Nori Jacoby

Neural and Environmental Rhythms

The Research Group "Neural and Environmental Rhythms" focuses on understanding how brain–environment synchrony contributes to our individual experience of the auditory world.


Molly Henry, PhD



The Institute

Our institutes investigates the foundations and mechanisms of aesthetic perception and evaluation as well as aesthetically appealing features of objects and events across sensory modalities. It draws on broad multi-disciplinary expertise and a large variety of methods. Key desiderata include the multiple nuances as well as individual and cultural differences of aesthetic liking, its motivational implications and the functions of aesthetic experiences for cognitive and affective development and for subjective well-being and social communication. [more]

About usPeople


The Library provides researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics as well as interested scholars and artists with literature, scientific information and audiovisual media in the fields of aesthetics, music, psychology, literature and cultural studies. [more]

CollectionOpening hours


The ArtLab is both a modern, multi-purpose event location, as well as a psychophysiological research facility. Regularly featured here are all kinds of performances (e.g., classical and contemporary musical concerts, literary readings, movie presentations) as well as scientific studies and experiments involving up to 46 test subjects simultaneously.
Information/ Facilities




Inhabit #2

The second residency of the artist-in-residence program INHABIT just started. Media artist Lea Letzel will be exploring links between live music concerts and pyrotechnics.

Wie das Gehirn Ereignisse vorhersagt

New model contradicts previous hypotheses.

Forschungsbericht 2017/18

Die Forschungsprojekte des Instituts im Überblick

Geliebt oder gehasst?

An Innovative Approach to Measuring Aesthetic Enjoyment



Max-Planck-Institut für empirische Ästhetik

What do eye movements, pupil dilation, and blinking activity tell us about musical processing? A two-day conference... [more]

Max-Planck-Institut für empirische Ästhetik

This workshop provides the theoretical background, as well as hands-on training in R, for the application in psychology... [more]