Dr. Ayse Ilkay Isik

Main research areas

  • Neural correlates of aesthetic experience
  • Visual perception
  • Neuroimaging methods
  • Automatized actions



Academic Education

2016- 2020PhD in Psychology, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main (Thesis Title: Neural and Behavioral Dynamics of Visual Aesthetic Experiences)


Master of Science (Master of Interdisciplinary Neuroscience) Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main


Exchange semester at Maastricht University, The Netherlands


Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) Bilkent University, Ankara


Milli Piyango High School, Bursa, Turkey



Since 05/2022Visiting Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics


Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics


Research Assistant, Institute of Medical Psychology, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main



Isik, A.I. and Vessel, E.A. (2021). From Visual Perception to Aesthetic Appeal: Brain Responses to Aesthetically Appealing Natural Landscape Movies. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 15:676032. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2021.676032

Botvinik-Nezer, R., Holzmeister, F., Camerer, C. F., Dreber, A., Huber, J., … Isik, A.I., … Ball, S. (2020). Variability in the analysis of a single neuroimaging dataset by many teams. Nature, 1–31. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-231

Isik, A. I., & Vessel, E. A. (2019). Continuous ratings of movie watching reveal idiosyncratic dynamics of aesthetic enjoyment. PLOS ONE14(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

Esteban O, Markiewicz CJ, Blair RW, Moodie CA, Isik A.I, Erramuzpe A, Kent JD, Goncalves M, DuPre E, Snyder M, Oya H, Ghosh SS, Wright J, Durnez J, Poldrack RA, Gorgolewski KJ.(2018) fMRIPrep: a robust preprocessing pipeline for functional MRI. Nature Methods 1–20. 10.1038/s41592-018-0235-4

Isik A.I., Naumer M.J., Kaiser J., Buschenlange C., Wiesmann S., Czoschke S., et al (2017). Automatized smoking-related action schemata are reflected by reduced fMRI activity in sensorimotor brain regions of smokers. NeuroImage Clin 15: 753-760.


Awards & Grants

Awards & Grants

2019OHBM Hackathon Travel Award, Rome
2016Tuition waiver for the Summer School in Cognitive Science “Cognition, Art, and Culture”, University of Vienna


DAAD, German Academic Exchange Service, Master Scholarship


Bilkent University, Ankara, Comprehensive Scholarship


Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) Grant to Support Scientists at Undergraduate Level