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Book Chapter

Scene preferences, aesthetic appeal and curiosity: Revisiting the neurobiology of the infovore


Vessel,  Edward Allen
Department of Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society;

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Vessel, E. A., Yue, X., & Biederman, I. (2022). Scene preferences, aesthetic appeal and curiosity: Revisiting the neurobiology of the infovore. In A. Chatterjee, & E. Cardilo (Eds.), Brain, beauty, and art: Essays bringing neuroaesthetics into focus (pp. 61ff). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oso/9780197513620.003.0013.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-C8F1-5
A gradient of µ-opioid receptors extends from early sensory areas of the cerebral cortex to associative cortex, with the greatest density of receptors in the most anterior associative regions. In 2006, Biederman and Vessel proposed that the hedonic value of perceptual and cognitive experience is a function of activation of this gradient. A desire for opioid activity provided by this gradient renders us infovores, always seeking novel but richly interpretable experiences. Richly interpretable experiences engage the opioid-dense anterior regions of the gradient, while novel experiences engage neural ensembles that have yet to undergo adaptation. Support for this proposal derives from the greater activity elicited in opioid-rich parahippocampal cortex for preferred over nonpreferred scenes, with neural network modeling of visual aesthetic responses suggesting that representations in later stages are more predictive of aesthetic responses, and psychopharmacological experiments that support the potential involvement of endogenous opioids.