September 2018
Volume 18, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2018
Dynamics of aesthetic experience are reflected in the default-mode network
Author Affiliations
  • Edward Vessel
    Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute of Empirical Aesthetics
  • Amy Belfi
    Psychology, New York University
  • Aenne Brielmann
    Psychology, New York University
  • Ilkay Isik
    Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute of Empirical Aesthetics
  • Anjan Chatterjee
    Neurology, U. Pennsylvania School of Medicine
  • Helmut Leder
    Basic Psychological Research and Research Methods, U. Vienna
  • Denis Pelli
    Psychology, New York University
  • G. Starr
    English, Pomona College
Journal of Vision September 2018, Vol.18, 151. doi:
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      Edward Vessel, Amy Belfi, Aenne Brielmann, Ilkay Isik, Anjan Chatterjee, Helmut Leder, Denis Pelli, G. Starr; Dynamics of aesthetic experience are reflected in the default-mode network. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):151.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Aesthetic experience with static visual art engages visual, reward and default-mode (DMN) networks, yet very little is known about the temporal dynamics of these networks during aesthetic appreciation. Previous behavioral and brain imaging research suggests that critical aspects of aesthetic experience have slow dynamics, taking more than a few seconds, making them amenable to study with fMRI. Here, we identified key aspects of the dynamics of aesthetic experience while viewing art for various durations (1, 5 or 15 s). Thirty observers continuously rated the pleasure they experienced both during image presentation and during a 14 s post-stimulus period, followed by an overall judgment of an image's aesthetic appeal. Overall judgments were used to sort trials into high, medium, and low aesthetic appeal. In the first few seconds following image onset, activity in the DMN (and high-level visual and reward regions) was greater for high appeal images; in the DMN this activity counteracted a suppressive effect that grew longer and deeper with increasing image duration. In addition, for high appeal art, the DMN response returned to baseline in a manner time-locked to image offset. Conversely, for non- appealing art, the timing of this return to baseline was inconsistent. This differential response in the DMN may therefore reflect the internal dynamics of the observer's state: the observer disengages from art-related processing and returns to stimulus-independent thought in a manner that is dependent on subjective aesthetic appeal. These dynamics suggest that the DMN tracks the internal state of an observer during aesthetic experience.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018


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