Visual Neuroaesthetics (VisNA) Lab

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.

 

Want to volunteer for our studies?

Go here to sign up for the Institute's Research Participant Registry.

 

News

Interested in working on neuroaesthetics research?

We're looking for a talented and motivated individual to join our team as a student research assistant.

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Ilkay successfully defended her thesis!

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VisNA lab members met to congratulate Laura on finishing her Masters, and wish her well as she starts her PhD

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Events

Society for Neuroscience of Creativity 2020 Virtual Conference

The SfNC Annual Meeting is going virtual! Dr. Vessel will give a data blitz presentation on recent work linking the state of being aesthetically moved with the state of creative inspirationhttps://www.tsfnc.org/2020-conference

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People

Edward A. Vessel

Team Leader

Ayse Ilkay Isik

Postdoctoral Researcher

Dominik Welke

PhD Candidate

Projects

 

 

 

 

VisNA Lab Team

Edward A. Vessel, PhD

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter

+49 69 8300479-327

E-Mail

Dr. Ayse Ilkay Isik

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin

+49 69 8300479-343

E-Mail

Dominik Welke

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter

+49 69 8300479-347

E-Mail

Resources

  • Dataset from Vessel et al. (2018) "Stronger shared taste for natural aesthetic domains than for artifacts of human culture."

Latest Publications

Schlotz, W., Wallot, S., Omigie, D., Masucci, M. D., Hoelzmann, S. C., & Vessel, E. A. (2020). The Aesthetic Responsiveness Assessment (AReA): A screening tool to assess individual differences in responsiveness to art in English and German (Online First Posting). Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. doi:10.1037/aca0000348.
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Botvinik-Nezer, R., Holzmeister, F., Camerer, C. F., Dreber, A., Huber, J., Johannesson, M., Kirchler, M., Iwanir, R., Mumford, J. A., Adcock, R. A., Avesani, P., Baczkowski, B. M., Bajracharya, A., Bakst, L., Ball, S., Barilari, M., Bault, N., Beaton, D., Beitner, J., Benoit, R. G., Berkers, R. M. W. J., Bhanji, J. P., Biswal, B. B., Bobadilla-Suarez, S., Bortolini, T., Bottenhorn, K. L., Bowring, A., Braem, S., Brooks, H. R., Brudner, E. G., Calderon, C. B., Camilleri, J. A., Castrellon, J. J., Cecchetti, L., Cieslik, E. C., Cole, Z. J., Collignon, O., Cox, R. W., Cunningham, W. A., Czoschke, S., Dadi, K., Davis, C. P., Luca, A. D., Delgado, M. R., Demetriou, L., Dennison, J. B., Di, X., Dickie, E. W., Dobryakova, E., Donnat, C. L., Dukart, J., Duncan, N. W., Durnez, J., Eed, A., Eickhoff, S. B., Erhart, A., Fontanesi, L., Fricke, G. M., Fu, S., Galván, A., Gau, R., Genon, S., Glatard, T., Glerean, E., Goeman, J. J., Golowin, S. A. E., González-García, C., Gorgolewski, K. J., Grady, C. L., Green, M. A., Moreira, J. F. G., Guest, O., Hakimi, S., Hamilton, J. P., Hancock, R., Handjaras, G., Harry, B. B., Hawco, C., Herholz, P., Herman, G., Heunis, S., Hoffstaedter, F., Hogeveen, J., Holmes, S., Hu, C.-P., Huettel, S. A., Hughes, M. E., Iacovella, V., Iordan, A. D., Isager, P. M., Isik, A. I., Jahn, A., Johnson, M. R., Johnstone, T., Joseph, M. J. E., Juliano, A. C., Kable, J. W., Kassinopoulos, M., Koba, C., Kong, X.-Z., Koscik, T. R., Kucukboyaci, N. E., Kuhl, B. A., Kupek, S., Laird, A. R., Lamm, C., Langner, R., Lauharatanahirun, N., Lee, H., Lee, S., Leemans, A., Leo, A., Lesage, E., Li, F., Li, M. Y. C., Lim, P. C., Lintz, E. N., Liphardt, S. W., Vermeer, A. B. L., Love, B. C., Mack, M. L., Malpica, N., Marins, T., Maumet, C., McDonald, K., McGuire, J. T., Melero, H., Leal, A. S. M., Meyer, B., Meyer, K. N., Mihai, G., Mitsis, G. D., Moll, J., Nielson, D. M., Nilsonne, G., Notter, M. P., Olivetti, E., Onicas, A. I., Papale, P., Patil, K. R., Peelle, J. E., Pérez, A., Pischedda, D., Poline, J.-B., Prystauka, Y., Ray, S., Reuter-Lorenz, P. A., Reynolds, R. C., Ricciardi, E., Rieck, J. R., Rodriguez-Thompson, A. M., Romyn, A., Salo, T., Samanez-Larkin, G. R., Sanz-Morales, E., Schlichting, M. L., Schultz, D. H., Shen, Q., Sheridan, M. A., Silvers, J. A., Skagerlund, K., Smith, A., Smith, D. V., Sokol-Hessner, P., Steinkamp, S. R., Tashjian, S. M., Thirion, B., Thorp, J. N., Tinghög, G., Tisdall, L., Tompson, S. H., Toro-Serey, C., Tresols, J. J. T., Tozzi, L., Truong, V., Turella, L., van Veer, A. E. ‘., Verguts, T., Vettel, J. M., Vijayarajah, S., Vo, K., Wall, M. B., Weeda, W. D., Weis, S., White, D. J., Wisniewski, D., Xifra-Porxas, A., Yearling, E. A., Yoon, S., Yuan, R., Yuen, K. S. L., Zhang, L., Zhang, X., Zosky, J. E., Nichols, T. E., & Schonberg, R. A. P. &. T. (2020). Variability in the analysis of a single neuroimaging dataset by many teams. Nature,582, 84-88. doi:10.1038/s41586-020-2314-9.
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Vessel, E. A. (2020). Neuroaesthetics. In Reference Module in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology. Amsterdam: Elsevier. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-809324-5.24104-7.
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Appelhoff, S., Sanderson, M., Brooks, T. L., van Vliet, M., Quentin, R., Holdgraf, C., Chaumon, M., Mikulan, E., Tavabi, K., Höchenberger, R., Welke, D., Brunner, C., Rockhill, A. P., Larson, E., Gramfort, A., & Jas, M. (2019). MNE-BIDS: Organizing electrophysiological data into the BIDS format and facilitating their analysis. The Journal of Open Source Software,4(44): 1896. doi:10.21105/joss.01896.
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Isik, A. I., & Vessel, E. A. (2019). Continuous ratings of movie watching reveal idiosyncratic dynamics of aesthetic enjoyment. PLoS One,14(10): e0223896. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0223896.
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Vessel, E. A., Isik, A. I., Belfi, A. M., Stahl, J. L., & Starr, a. G. G. (2019). The default-mode network represents aesthetic appeal that generalizes across visual domains. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. doi:10.1073/pnas.1902650116.
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Belfi, A. M., Vessel, E. A., Brielmann, A., Isik, A. I., Chatterjee, A., Leder, H., Pelli, D. G., & Starr, G. (2019). Dynamics of aesthetic experience are reflected in the default-mode network. NeuroImage,188, 584-597. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.12.017.
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Esteban, O., Markiewicz, C. J., Blair, R. W., Moodie, C. A., Isik, A. I., Erramuzpe, A., Kent, J. D., Goncalves, M., DuPre, E., Snyder, M., Oya, H., Ghosh, S. S., Wright, J., Durnez, J., Poldrack, R. A., & Gorgolewski, K. J. (2019). fMRIPrep: A robust preprocessing pipeline for functional MRI. Nature methods,16(1), 111-116. doi:10.1038/s41592-018-0235-4.
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Belfi, A. M., Kasdan, A., Rowland, J., Vessel, E. A., Starr, G. G., & Poeppel, D. (2018). Rapid timing of musical aesthetic judgments. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General,147(10), 1531-1543. doi:10.1037/xge0000474.
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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. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2018.06.009.
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Belfi, A. M., Vessel, E. A., & Starr, G. G. (2018). Individual ratings of vividness predict aesthetic appeal in poetry. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts,12(3), 341-350. doi:10.1037/aca0000153.
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Isik, A. I., Naumer, M. J., Kaiser, J., Buschenlange, C., Wiesmann, S., Czoschke, S., & Yalachkov, Y. (2017). Automatized smoking-related action schemata are reflected by reduced fMRI activity in sensorimotor brain regions of smokers. NeuroImage: Clinical,15, 753-760. doi:10.1016/j.nicl.2017.06.021.
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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. doi:doi:10.1167/16.9.15.
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