Exploring Network Interactions During Aesthetic Experiences

How does the brain support aesthetic experiences with visual stimuli such as artwork, landscapes, architecture or dance? Recent work in our group suggests that finding a painting to be aesthetically moving involves a change away from the typical behavior of large-scale brain networks. In particular, the default-mode network (DMN), a brain network that is thought to support aspects of internally-directed thought, is typically suppressed when visual networks are active, and vice versa. However, during moving aesthetic experiences, these two networks appear to be simultaneously active (Vessel, Starr, Rubin, 2012; 2013). The goal of this project is to better understand these network interactions: what neural processes support such moving visual aesthetic experiences, and what role do changes in the activation and connectivity of large scale networks plays in moving aesthetic experiences.