Penn Center for Neuroaesthetics

Our mission

Advanceresearch in basic and applied neuroaesthetics

Educatethe next generation of scholars

Convergeallied interdisciplinary interests

Welcomeinvestigators and creative experts

Engagewith 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.

Some topical questions

  • Is there a common neural currency to beauty across different domains — e.g., bodies, nature, man-made 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?
  • Does beauty influence other values such as morality?
  • 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.

Questions that motivate us

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

Want to learn more about our research? Check out some of our latest publications!

PCfN research →

Education


Grounded in basic science, PCfN aims to promote dialogue across disciplines and to educate — and be informed by — the arts community and general public. Serving as a multidisciplenary hub for scholars in neuroscience, psychology, business, philosophy, the arts and humanities, we will offer new educational opportunities for those interested in the empirical study of aesthetics.

Future activities

  • Graduate seminars and undergraudate courses
  • Publications and texts on neuroaesthetics
  • Traditional academic gatherings (symposia, public lectures, workshops, national and international meetings)
  • Collaborative events with arts venues and museums