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.
Max-Planck-Institut für empirische Ästhetik
- 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 ...
- Exploring Network Interactions During Aesthetic Experiences
How does the brain support aesthetic experiences with visual stimuli such as artwork, landscapes, architecture, dance or movies? ...
- 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? Our previous work using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has identified several brain systems involved in observers’ subjective ratings ...
- Brain on Screen
When we go to the cinema, we partake in a complex experience. How does a series of two-dimensional images and sounds blend into an immersive, sometimes lifelike narrative experience? And how do different individuals in the movie theater become ...
- Self Relevance and Aesthetic Appeal
While a degree of aesthetic appeal can be predicted from image features, a large proportion of variance in aesthetic ratings differs from person to person, particularly for visual art. We hypothesize that this is due to the ability of visual art ...
- Measuring neural and physiological responses to dynamically changing real-world aesthetic experiences
Aesthetic experiences with visual artwork often occur in real-world settings such as museums. Yet given the limitations of brain imaging technology, most of what we know about the neural and physiological basis of aesthetic experiences is derived ...