Main Research Areas
- The neural basis of aesthetic experience
- Visual preferences
- The neurobiology of information foraging
- Brain imaging methods
1997 – 2004
PhD (Neurosciences), The University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
1993 – 1997
Bachelor of Arts (Cognitive Sciences), The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Research Scientist, Max-Planck-Institute for empirical Aesthetics
2014 - 2015
Full Research Scientist, Center for Brain Imaging, New York University, New York, NY
2010 - 2015
Co-Director, NYU ArtLab
2009 - 2014
Assistant Research Scientist, Center for Brain Imaging, NYU
Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychology, NYU
2008 - 2009
Research Consultant for Nava Rubin, Center for Neural Science, NYU, and Denis Pelli, Department of Psychology, NYU
2007 – 2008
Adjunct Lecturer, Departments of Psychology and English, NYU
2004 - 2007
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Center for Neural Science, NYU, Advisor: Nava Rubin
Vessel, E. A. (2020). Neuroaesthetics. In Reference Module in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology (pp. 1–10). Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-809324-5.24104-7
Isik, A. I., & Vessel, E. A. (2019). Continuous ratings of movie watching reveal idiosyncratic dynamics of aesthetic enjoyment. PLOS ONE, 14(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0223896
Vessel,E.A., Isik, A.I., Belfi, A.M., Stahl, J. L., and Starr, G. G. (2019) The default-mode network represents aesthetic appeal that generalizes across visual domains. PNAS https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1902650116
Belfi, A. M., Vessel, E. A., Brielmann, A., Isik, A. I., Chatterjee, A., Leder, H., Pelli, D. G., Starr, G. G. (2019). Dynamics of aesthetic experience are reflected in the default-mode network. NeuroImage, 188, 584–597. http://doi.org/10.1016/J.NEUROIMAGE.2018.12.017
Belfi, A. M., Kasdan, A., Rowland, J., Vessel, E. A., Starr, G. G., & Poeppel, D. (2018, July 16). Rapid Timing of Musical Aesthetic Judgments. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000474
Vessel, E. A., Maurer, N., Denker, A. H., & Starr, G. G. (2018). Stronger shared taste for natural aesthetic domains than for artifacts of human culture. Cognition, 179, 121–131. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.06.009
Belfi, A.M., Vessel, E.A., Starr, G.G. (2017). Individual ratings of vividness predict aesthetic appeal in poetry. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. Advance online publication http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/aca0000153
Vessel, E. A., Biederman, I., Subramaniam, S., & Greene, M. R. (2016). Effective signaling of surface boundaries by L-vertices reflect the consistency of their contrast in natural images. Journal of Vision, 16(9), 15-15. doi: 10.1167/16.9.15. http://journalofvision.org/16/9/15
Vessel, E. A. (2015) Effects of reduced sensory stimulation and assessment of countermeasures for sensory stimulation augmentation. Draft Report. Houston (TX): National Aeronautics and Space Administration (US). 173 p. Contract No.: NNJ13HF11P.
Vessel, E. A., Stahl, J., Maurer, N., Denker, A., Starr. G.G. (2014) Personalized visual aesthetics. Proc. SPIE 9014, Human Vision and Electronic Imaging XIX, 90140S, 1-8. doi: 10.1117/12.2043126.
Vessel, E. A., Starr, G.G., Rubin, N. (2013) Art reaches within: aesthetic experience, the self and the default-mode network. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 7:258, doi: 10.3389/fnins.2013.00258. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2013.00258
Vessel, E. A., Starr, G.G., Rubin, N. (2012) The brain on art: Intense aesthetic experience activates the default mode network. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6:66, doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00066. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2012.00066
Vessel, E. A., & Rubin, N. (2010). Beauty and the beholder: Highly individual taste for abstract, but not real-world images. Journal of Vision, 10(2): 18, 1-14, journalofvision.org/10/2/18, doi:10.1167/10.2.18.
Yue, X., Vessel, E. A., & Biederman, I. (2007) The neural basis of scene preferences. NeuroReport, 16(6), 525-529.
Biederman, I. & Vessel, E. A. (2006) Perceptual pleasure and the brain. American Scientist, 94, 249-255.
Awards & Grants
2014 – 2016
Beauty and Beyond Research Institute, Global Institute for Advanced Studies, NYU
2013 – 2014
Sensory stimulation augmentation tools for long duration exploration spaceflight, NASA
Speaker, World Science Festival
2003 - 2006
Postdoctoral NRSA award (NEI)
2001 - 2003
Predoctoral NRSA USC Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience Training Grant
Fellow Dartmouth Summer Institute, Cognitive sciences
- Singing Voice Preferences
As suggested by the many singing contests and music programs in the media, the singing voice attracts ample attention. Recent studies showed that lay and expert listeners share similar definitions of what is “correct” when listening to ...
- Exploring Network Interactions During Aesthetic Experiences
- Aesthetic Appreciation Across Multiple Visual Domains
Individuals can be aesthetically engaged by objects from widely different visual aesthetic domains, such as paintings, mountain vistas, or buildings. The goal of this project is to understand whether aesthetic appreciation of different visual ...
- A Developmental Timeline of Hedonic Preferences
Adult liking judgments for visual scenes are strongly influenced by the semantic content of images, more so than by lower-level visual features (e.g. the presence of specific colors or line types). This results in a strong degree of shared taste ...
- Shivers down the spine in poetry and music
The wise reader reads the book of genius not with his heart, not so much with his brain, but with his spine. ...
- Aesthetic Responsiveness and Engagement Assessment (AREA): Psychometric analysis and test of measurement invariance across samples from the USA and Germany
It is generally accepted that most people are capable of having moving aesthetic experiences, with the caveat that the particular types of stimuli that are effective elicitors of positive aesthetic responses, and the intensity of aesthetic ...
- Aesthetically Moving Experiences and Creative Inspiration
Moments of creative inspiration are critical pivot points that mark the transition from creative ideation to actualization of an idea. We hypothesize that the state of being aesthetically moved, a critical moment during ...
- Electrophysiological Correlates of Aesthetically Moving Experiences
How does the brain support aesthetically “moving” experiences with visual art in situ? Our previous work using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has identified several brain systems involved in observers’ subjective ratings ...
- Brain on Screen
When we go to the cinema, we partake in a complex experience. How does a series of two-dimensional images and sounds blend into an immersive, sometimes lifelike narrative experience? And how do different individuals in the movie theater become ...