Poster A102, Saturday, March 24, 1:30–3:30 pm, Exhibit Hall C
Psychological dimensions and their neural correlates in response to architectural interiors
Alex Coburn1, Oshin Vartanian2, Marcos Nadal3, Yoed Kenett1, Anjan Chatterjee1; 1University of Pennsylvania, 2University of Toronto, 3University of Vienna
People today spend most of their lives indoors. Yet little is known about the effects of built environments on psychological and brain function. In this study, we addressed two questions. First, are there principal dimensions of psychological experiences in response to the built environment? Second, do those dimensions correlate with neural activity? In Experiment 1, participants (n=800) rated 200 images of building interiors on semantic differential scales. Using Principal Components Analysis, we identified three components that explained 90% of the variance in ratings: coherence (ease with which one organizes and comprehends a scene), complexity (a scene’s informational richness and generated interest), and hominess (extent to which the scene reflects a personal environment). Whereas coherence and complexity are well-established dimensions in assessing natural scenes, hominess emerged as a new dimension in relation to architectural interiors. In Experiment 2, participants (n=18) performed the tasks of beauty judgments and approach-avoidance decisions when viewing the same images in the fMRI scanner. Parametric analyses demonstrated that, regardless of the task, hominess and complexity scores were correlated with greater neural activity in the left cuneus and the right lingual gyrus, respectively. In contrast, coherence scores were correlated with greater neural activity in the right precuneus and the left inferior occipital gyrus only when participants were judging beauty. Our results suggest that architectural encounters are explained by dimensions of coherence, complexity, and hominess. Neural responses in visual cortices to complexity and hominess are insensitive to context, whereas responses to coherence are evoked when people judge beauty specifically.
Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Vision