Poster D124, Monday, March 27, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Exploring network connectivity during visual aesthetic experiences
Ilkay Isik1, Edward A. Vessel1; 1Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Whether it is a painting or a natural scene, human beings consistently favor interactions with aesthetically pleasing objects. However, the mechanisms supporting aesthetically pleasing experiences remain to be discovered. Previous research found that the ventral visual pathway and the default-mode network (DMN), large-scale brain networks that are typically anti-correlated, become simultaneously active during moving aesthetic experiences, suggesting that such experiences are correlated with a change in the dynamics of large scale brain networks. We measured BOLD fMRI as eighteen participants made aesthetic judgments about landscapes, architecture and paintings (including portraits), and tested the hypothesis that ventral visual regions would show functional connectivity (fc) with nodes of the DMN and that this fc would be content specific and modulated by preference. Core regions of the DMN and category-selective visual regions in ventral occipito-temporal cortex (e.g. PPA, FFA, OFA) were identified for each individual using a rest scan and a visual localizer scan. We found that the three aesthetic domains differentially activated regions in ventral occipito-temporal cortex: FFA was most activated by art and PPA was most activated by architecture. The caudate and DMN were also modulated by aesthetic preference. A measure of dynamic fc (multiplication of temporal derivatives; MTD) revealed fc between category selective ventral visual regions and several nodes of the DMN, but that fc was not content specific nor modulated by preference. These results suggest that aesthetic appreciation may not be directly mediated by connections between content-specific brain regions and the DMN.
Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Vision