What does it mean for a painting to fill us with wonder, for a sunset to be beautiful or for a film to move us? Why do some visual experiences have the power to reach inside and grab us, while others leave little impression? How can we measure these experiences scientifically?
In the VisNA Lab, we study the psychological and neural basis of aesthetic experiences, such as when a person is aesthetically “moved” by visual art, poetry, architecture, music, or natural landscapes. Much of our research relies on brain imaging (fMRI, EEG) and behavioral techniques. We also frequently use computational tools (e.g. machine learning), measurements of physiology and eyetracking.
Our core research areas are:
- Identifying the central cognitive and emotional processes that underly aesthetic experiences and the interacting neural systems that support them.
- Characterizing the conditions that lead to “shared taste” across a population of individuals in different aesthetic domains.
- Development of methods for studying aesthetic experiences in more naturalistic settings such as museums and performance halls.
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- 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 untrained ...
- Exploring Network Interactions During Aesthetic Experiences
How does the brain support aesthetic experiences with visual stimuli such as artwork, landscapes, architecture, dance or movies? Finding a painting to be aesthetically moving involves a change away from the typical behavior ...
- 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 ...
- Schauer bei Musik und Poesie
Der weise Leser liest das Werk eines Genies nicht mit seinem Herzen und auch nicht mit seinem Gehirn, sondern mit seinem Rücken. ...
- Aesthetic Responsiveness and Engagement Assessment (AREA): Psychometrische Analyse und Prüfung der Messinvarianz in Stichproben aus den USA und Deutschland
Die Annahme, dass die meisten Personen eine Disposition zu bewegendem ästhetischem Erleben haben, ist allgemein akzeptiert, wobei Personen sich darin unterscheiden können, auf welche spezifischen Reize sie positive ästhetische Reaktionen ...
- 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? ...
Dynamics of aesthetic experience are reflected in the default-mode network
Amy M. Belfi, Edward Allen Vessel, Aenne Brielmann, Ayse Ilkay Isik, Anjan Chatterjee, Helmut Leder, Denis G. Pelli, Gabrielle Starr
NeuroImage 188 584-597 (2019)
Stronger shared taste for natural aesthetic domains than for artifacts of human culture
Edward Allen Vessel, Natalia Maurer, Alexander H. Denker, G. Gabrielle Starr
Cognition 179 121-131 (2018)
fMRIPrep: A robust preprocessing pipeline for functional MRI
Oscar Esteban, Christopher J. Markiewicz, Ross W. Blair, Craig A. Moodie, Ayse Ilkay Isik, Asier Erramuzpe, James D. Kent, Mathias Goncalves, Elizabeth DuPre, Madeleine Snyder, et al.
Nature methods 16(1) 111-116 (2019)
Individual ratings of vividness predict aesthetic appeal in poetry
A. M. Belfi, Edward Allen Vessel, G. G. Starr
Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts (2017)
Rapid timing of musical aesthetic judgments
Amy M. Belfi, Anna Kasdan, Jess Rowland, Edward Allen Vessel, G. Gabrielle Starr, David Poeppel
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 147(10) 1531-1543 (2018)
Automatized smoking-related action schemata are reflected by reduced fMRI activity in sensorimotor brain regions of smokers
Ayse Ilkay Isik, Marcus J. Naumer, Jochen Kaiser, Christian Buschenlange, Sandro Wiesmann, Stefan Czoschke, Yavor Yalachkov
NeuroImage: Clinical 15 753-760 (2017)
Effective signaling of surface boundaries by L-vertices reflect the consistency of their contrast in natural images
Edward Allen Vessel, Irving Biederman, Suresh Subramaniam, Michelle R. Greene
Journal of Vision 16(9) 15 (2016)
- Dataset from Vessel et al. (2018) "Stronger shared taste for natural aesthetic domains than for artifacts of human culture."