Edward A. Vessel, PhD

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


      2016 - 

      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. Cognition179, 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

      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