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Meeting Abstract

Dynamics of aesthetic experience are reflected in the default-mode network

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Vessel, B., Belfi, A., Brielmann, A., Isik, I., Chatterjee, A., Leder, H., et al. (2018). Dynamics of aesthetic experience are reflected in the default-mode network. Journal of Vision, 18(10), 151.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-6B59-E
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.