Penn Center for Neuroaesthetics

Welcome to PCfN

Our mission →

  • Educate the next generation of scholars
  • Advance research in basic and applied neuroaesthetics
  • Converge allied interdisciplinary interests
  • Welcome investigators and creative experts
  • Engage with the arts community

Basic research

The aim of neuroaesthetics is to understand neural systems that underlie aesthetic experiences and choices. This includes investigating the nature and neural basis of beauty, art, design, and architecture.

Important questions →

  • Is there a common neural currency to beauty across different domains — e.g., bodies, nature, objects, spaces?
  • How is the pleasure derived from art different from primary pleasures such as pleasure in food or sex?
  • What distinguishes utilitarian from non-utilitarian choices?
  • What are aesthetic emotions?
  • How do negative emotions give rise to pleasure in aesthetic contexts?
  • How does beauty influence moral decision making?
  • What are the temporal dimensions of aesthetic experiences?
  • How does context and education affect aesthetic experiences?

Translational research

Neuroaesthetics applications are relevant to medicine and beyond into domains of society and culture.

Ideas in action →

  • How might aesthetic experiences be used therapeutically?
  • How might an understanding of psychological and neural responses to constructed spaces contribute to architectural design?
  • How does engagement with aesthetics and the arts contribute to well-being?
  • How does aesthetics influence product design and marketing?
  • How can aesthetics facilitate learning?

Want to learn more about what we do? Check out some of our latest projects and publications!

PCfN Research