Research

Current Projects

Our research involves a wide range of topics and approaches. Current projects focus on beauty and moralitythe built environment and wellness, and engagement with art. On this page, you can also find our publications & resources.


Woman's face with scarring across the forehead and chin
Modified photo from the Chicago Face Database

Beauty and Morality

Our research shows that people with facial anomalies, such as scars or paralysis, are viewed as having worse social traits. These problematic stereotypes are associated with implicit biases and neural responses suggestive of diminished empathy and possibly, dehumanization.


A partially-outdoor patio space with smooth marble and glass surfaces
Photo by Jean-Philipe Delberghe

The Built Environment and Wellness

What are the specific features of interior and exterior spaces that promote wellness? We investigate how various design features, such as ceiling height or wall curvature, can determine our experiences along certain psychological dimensions—coherence, fascination, and hominess.


Painting of Louise-Antoinette Feuardent by Jean-François Millet with image processing to show strength of gradients
Portrait of Louise-Antoinette Feuardent by Jean-François Millet, from the J. Paul Getty Museum online collection

Engagement with Art

There are many ways to measure the physical properties of an image. One approach is to study patterns in low level features, such as in the distribution of visual edges in a work of art. Based on the strength and orientation of edges, we can quantify properties such as visual complexity and measure the extent to which these properties affect our aesthetic preferences.


Composition with Blue and Yellow by Piet Mondrian
Composition with Blue and Yellow by Piet Mondrian, from the Philadelphia Museum of Art online collection

Individuals perceive a varying quality of motion in abstract work by artists like Jackson Pollock and Piet Mondrian. We examine how this motion affects aesthetic preferences. We're also exploring whether preferences for motion are affected in individuals with Parkinson’s disease, who may have difficulty forming representations of action and movement.


Network diagram showing relationships among various artworks
Diagram from the Penn Center for Neuroaesthetics

There is enormous variety in the universe of visual art. A powerful method to bring order to this chaos is network analysis. Networks help us cluster images that have similar physical properties or that have been described using similar language. These groupings help us reveal underlying patterns in how we respond to art and what drives our appreciation for beauty.


Publications & Resources 

Publications on topics in neuroaesthetics

Publications on other topics in cognitive neuroscience

Language & Space

  • Weisberg, S. M., & Chatterjee, A. (2020). Reference frames in spatial communication for navigation and sports: An empirical study in ultimate frisbee players. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 5, 53. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41235-020-00254-1
  • Klooster, N., McQuire, M., Grossman, M., McMillan, C., Chatterjee, A., & Cardillo, E. R. (2020). The neural basis of metaphor comprehension: Evidence from left hemisphere degeneration. Neurobiology of Language, 1(4), 474–491. https://doi.org/10.1162/nol_a_00022
  • Hartung, F. Kenett, Y. N., Cardillo, E. R., Humphries, S., Klooster, N., & Chatterjee, A. (2020). Context matters: Novel metaphors in supportive and non-supportive contexts. NeuroImage, 212, 116645. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.116645
  • Humphries, S., Klooster, N., Cardillo, E. R., Weintraub, D., Rick, J., & Chatterjee, A. (2019). From action to abstraction: The sensorimotor grounding of metaphor in Parkinson’s disease. Cortex, 121, 362–384. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2019.09.005
  • Özer, D., Göksun, T., & Chatterjee, A. (2019). Differential roles of gestures on spatial language in neurotypical elderly adults and individuals with focal brain injury. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 36(5–6), 282–299. https://doi.org/10.1080/02643294.2019.1618255
  • Weisberg, S. M., Newcomb, N., & Chatterjee, A. (2019). Everyday taxi drivers: Do better navigators have larger hippocampi? Cortex, 115, 280–293. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2018.12.024
  • Kranjec, A., Lehet, M., Woods, A. J., & Chatterjee, A. (2019). Time is not more abstract than space in sound. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 48. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00048
  • Cardillo, E. R., McQuire, M., & Chatterjee, A. (2018). Selective metaphor impairments after left, not right, hemisphere injury. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 2308. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02308
  • Akbıyıka, S., Karaduman, A., Göksun, T., & Chatterjee, A. (2018). The relationship between co-speech gesture production and macrolinguistic discourse abilities in people with focal brain injury. Neuropsychologia, 117, 440–453. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.06.025
  • Weisberg, S. M., Marchette, S. A., & Chatterjee, A. (2018). Behavioral and neural representations of spatial directions across words, schemas, and images. Journal of Neuroscience, 38(21), 4996–5007. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3250-17.2018
  • Weisberg, S. M., Badgio, D., & Chatterjee, A. (2018). Feel the way with a vibrotactile compass: Does a navigational aid aid navigation? Journal of Experimental Psychology, 44(5), 667–679. https://doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000472
  • Özer, D., Tansan, M., Özer, E. E., Malykhina, K., Chatterjee, A., & Göksun, T. (2017). The effects of gesture restriction on spatial language in young and elderly adults. In G. Gunzelmann, A. Howes, T. Tenbrink, & E. Davelaar (Eds.), Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1471–1476). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
  • Cardillo, E. R., Watson, C., & Chatterjee, A. (2017). Stimulus needs are a moving target: 240 additional matched literal and metaphorical sentences for testing neural hypotheses about metaphor. Behavior Research Methods, 49(2), 471–483. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-016-0717-1
  • Karaduman, A., Göksun, T., & Chatterjee, A. (2017). Narratives of focal brain injured individuals: A macro-level analysis. Neuropsychologia, 99, 314–325. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.03.027
  • McQuire, M., McCollum, L., & Chatterjee, A. (2016). Aptness and beauty in metaphor. Language and Cognition, 9(2), 316–331. https://doi.org/10.1017/langcog.2016.13
  • Jamrozik, A., McQuire, M., Cardillo, E. R., & Chatterjee, A. (2016). Metaphor: Bridging embodiment to abstraction. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 23(4), 1080–1089. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-015-0861-0
  • Nozari, N., Göksun T., Thompson-Schill, S. L., & Chatterjee, A. (2015). Phonological similarity affects production of gestures, even in the absence of overt speech. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1347. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01347
  • Göksun T., Lehet M., Malykhina K., & Chatterjee A. (2015). Spontaneous gesture and spatial language: Evidence from focal brain injury. Brain and Language, 150, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandl.2015.07.012
  • Ianni, G. R., Cardillo, E. R., McQuire, M., & Chatterjee, A. (2014). Flying under the radar: Figurative language impairments in focal lesion patients. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8, 871. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00871
  • Kranjec, A., Lupyan, G., & Chatterjee, A. (2014). Categorical biases in perceiving spatial relations. PLOS ONE, 9(5), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0098604
  • Kranjec, A., Lehet, M., & Chatterjee, A. (2014). Pitch affects estimates of space but not vice versa. In P. Bello, M. Guarini, M. McShane, & B. Scassellati (Eds.), Program of the 36th annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 779–784). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
  • Göksun T., Lehet M., Malykhina K., & Chatterjee A. (2013). Naming and gesturing spatial relations: Evidence from focal brain-injured individuals. Neuropsychologia, 51, 1518–1527. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2013.05.006
  • Amorapanth, P., Kranjec, A., Bromberger, B., Lehet, M., Widick, P., Woods, A. J., Kimberg, D. Y., & Chatterjee, A. (2012). Language, perception, and the schematic representation of spatial relations. Brain and Language, 120, 226–236. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandl.2011.09.007
  • Schmidt, G. L., Cardillo, E. R., Kranjec, A., Lehet, M., Widick, P., & Chatterjee, A. (2012). Not all analogies are created equal: Associative and categorical analogy processing following brain damage. Neuropsychologia, 50, 1372–1379. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.02.022
  • Cardillo, E. R., Watson, C. E., Schmidt, G. L., Kranjec, A., & Chatterjee, A. (2012). From novel to familiar: Tuning the brain for metaphors. NeuroImage, 59(4), 3212–3221. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.11.079
  • Watson, C., & Chatterjee, A. (2012). A bilateral frontoparietal network underlies visuospatial analogical reasoning. NeuroImage, 59(3), 2831–2838. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.09.030
  • Kranjec, A., & Chatterjee, A. (2010). Are temporal concepts embodied? A challenge for cognitive neuroscience. Frontiers in Psychology, 1, 240. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00240
  • Wencil, E. B., Aguirre, G. K., Coslett, H. B., & Chatterjee, A. (2010). Carving the clock at its component joints: Neural basis for interval timing. Journal of Neurophysiology, 104(1), 160–168. https://doi.org/10.1152/jn.00029.2009
  • Wencil, E. B., Radoeva, P., & Chatterjee, A. (2010). Size isn’t all that matters: Noticing differences in size and temporal order. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 4, 171. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2010.00171
  • Cardillo, E. R., Schmidt, G., Kranjec, A., & Chatterjee, A. (2010). Stimulus design is an obstacle course: 560 matched literal and metaphorical sentences for testing neural hypotheses about metaphor. Behavior Research Methods, 42(3), 651–664. https://doi.org/10.3758/BRM.42.3.651
  • Kranjec, A., Lehet, M., Bromberger, B., & Chatterjee, A. (2010). A sinister bias for calling fouls in soccer. PLOS ONE, 5(7), 1–4. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0011667
  • Chatterjee, A. (2010). Disembodying cognition. Language and Cognition, 2(1), 79–116. https://doi.org/10.1515/langcog.2010.004
  • Kranjec, A., Cardillo, E. R., Schmidt, G., & Chatterjee, A. (2010). Prescribed spatial prepositions influence how we think about time. Cognition, 114, 111–116. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2009.09.008
  • Amorapanth, P., Widick, P., & Chatterjee, A. (2009). The neural basis for spatial relations. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22(8), 1739–1753. https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn.2009.21322
  • Schmidt, G., Kranjec, A., Cardillo, E. R., & Chatterjee, A. (2009). Beyond laterality: A critical assessment of research on the neural basis of metaphor. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 16(1), 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1355617709990543
  • Chen, E., Widick, P., & Chatterjee, A. (2008). Functional-anatomical organization of predicate metaphor processing. Brain and Language, 107(3), 194–202. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandl.2008.06.007
  • Chatterjee, A. (2008). The neural organization of spatial thought and language. Seminars in Speech and Language, 29(3), 226–238. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0028-1082886
  • Wu, D., Waller, S., & Chatterjee, A. (2007). The functional neuroanatomy of thematic role and locative relational knowledge. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19(9), 1542–1555. https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn.2007.19.9.1542
  • Gottfried, J. A., Sancar, F., & Chatterjee, A. (2003). Acquired mirror writing and reading: Evidence for reflected graphemic representations. Neuropsychologia, 41, 96–107. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0028-3932(02)00130-6
  • Chatterjee, A. (2001). Language and space: Some interactions. Trends in Cognitive Science, 5(2), 55–61. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1364-6613(00)01598-9

Event Representation

  • Quandt, L. C., Lee, Y.-S., & Chatterjee, A. (2017). Neural bases of action abstraction. Biological Psychology, 129, 314–323. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2017.09.015
  • Quandt, L. C., Cardillo, E. R., Kranjec, A., & Chatterjee, A. (2015). Fronto-temporal regions encode the manner of motion in spatial language. Neuroscience Letters, 609, 171–175. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2015.10.041
  • Quandt, L. C., & Chatterjee, A. (2015). Rethinking actions: Implementation and association. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 6(6), 483–490. https://doi.org/10.1002/wcs.1367
  • Woods, A. J., Kranjec, A., Lehet, M., & Chatterjee, A. (2015). Expertise and decision-making in American football. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 994. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00994
  • Piedimonte, A., Woods, A. J., & Chatterjee, A. (2015). Disambiguating ambiguous motion perception: What are the cues? Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 902. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00902
  • Watson, C. E., Cardillo, E. R., Bromberger, B., & Chatterjee, A. (2014). The specificity of action knowledge in sensory and motor systems. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 494. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00494
  • Watson, C. E., Cardillo, E. R., Ianni, G. R., & Chatterjee, A. (2013). Action concepts in the brain: An activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 25, 1191–1205. https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn_a_00401
  • Watson, C., & Chatterjee, A. (2011). The functional neuroanatomy of actions. Neurology, 76, 1428–1434. https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182166e2c
  • Wu, D., Morganti, A., & Chatterjee, A. (2008). Neural substrates of processing path and manner information of a moving event. Neuropsychologia, 46, 704–713. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2007.09.016
  • Kable, J., & Chatterjee, A. (2006). Specificity of action representations in occipitotemporal cortex. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 18(9), 1498–1517. https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn.2006.18.9.1498
  • Kable, J., Kan, I. P., Wilson, A., Thompson-Schill, S. L., & Chatterjee, A. (2005). Conceptual representations of action in the lateral temporal cortex. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 17(12), 1855–1870. https://doi.org/10.1162/089892905775008625
  • Kable, J., Lease-Spellmeyer, J., & Chatterjee, A. (2002). The neural substrate of action event knowledge. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 14(5), 785–794. https://doi.org/10.1162/08989290260138681
  • Chatterjee, A., Southwood, M. H., & Basilico, D. (1999). Verbs, events and spatial representations. Neuropsychologia, 37, 395–402.

Neuroethics

Miscellaneous

  • Chakrabarty, M., Pflieger, E. M., Cardillo, E. R., & Chatterjee, A. (2019). Effects of acquired chronic brain injury on quality of life: A preliminary study in patients with a left or right-sided lesion. Archives of Rehabilitation Research and Clinical Translation, 2(1), 100031. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arrct.2019.100031
  • Chatterjee, A. (2018). Reflections on mirror neurons and rehabilitation [Commentary on the journal article Functions of the mirror neuron system: Implications for neurorehabilitation, by G. Buccino, A. Solodkin, & S. L. Small]. Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology, 31(4), 243–244. https://doi.org/10.1097/WNN.0000000000000177
  • Yeatts, S. D., Broderick, J. P., Chatterjee, A., Jauch, E. C., Levine, S. R., Romano, J. G., Saver, J. L., Vagal, A., Purdon, B., Devenport, J., & Khatri, P. (2018). Alteplase for the treatment of acute ischemic stroke in patients with low National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale and not clearly disabling deficits (Potential of rtPA for Ischemic Strokes with Mild Symptoms PRISMS): Rationale and design. International Journal of Stroke, 13(6), 654–661. https://doi.org/10.1177/1747493018765269
  • Siegler, J. E., Kable J. W., & Chatterjee, A. (2016). Resident decision making: Opioids in the outpatient setting. Journal of Graduate Medical Education, 8(2), 138–141. https://doi.org/10.4300/JGME-D-15-00186.1
  • Wende, K. C., Nagels, A., Stratmann, M., Chatterjee, A., Kircher, T., & Straube, B. (2015). Neural basis of altered physical and social causality judgements in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research, 161(2), 244–251. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.schres.2014.11.007
  • Vo, K., Rutledge, R. B., Chatterjee, A., & Kable, J. W. (2014). Dorsal striatum is necessary for stimulus-value but not action-value learning in humans. Brain, 137(12), 3129–3135. https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awu277
  • Olson, I. R., Ezzyat, Y., Plotzker, A., & Chatterjee, A. (2014). The end point of the ventral visual stream: Face and non-face perceptual deficits following unilateral anterior temporal lobe damage. Neurocase: The Neural Basis of Cognition, 21(5), 554–562. https://doi.org/10.1080/13554794.2014.959025
  • Göksun, T., Woods, A. J., Chatterjee, A., Zelonis, S., Glass, L., & Smith, S. E. (2013). Elementary school children’s attentional biases in physical and numerical space. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 10, 433–448. https://doi.org/10.1080/17405629.2012.692965
  • Woods, A. J., Göksun, T., Chatterjee, A., Zelonis, S., Mehta, A., & Smith, S. (2013). The development of organized visual search. Acta Psychologica, 143, 191–199. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2013.03.008
  • Smith, S. E., & Chatterjee, A. (2008). Visuospatial attention in children. Archives of Neurology, 65(10), 1284–1288. https://doi.org/10.1001/archneur.65.10.1284
  • Fellows, L., Stark, M., Berg, A., & Chatterjee, A. (2008). Patient registries in cognitive neuroscience research: Advantages, challenges, and practical advice. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20(6), 1107–1113. https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn.2008.20065
  • Chatterjee, A. (2005). A madness to the methods in cognitive neuroscience? Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 17(6), 847–849. https://doi.org/10.1162/0898929054021085
  • Biran, I., Giovannetti, T., Buxbaum, L., & Chatterjee, A. (2006). The alien hand syndrome: What makes the alien hand alien? Cognitive Neuropsychology, 23(4), 563–582. https://doi.org/10.1080/02643290500180282
  • Snyder, J., & Chatterjee, A. (2006). The frontal cortex and exogenous attentional orienting. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 18(11), 1913–1923. https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn.2006.18.11.1913
  • Ricci, R., Genero, R., Colombatti, S., Zampieri, D., & Chatterjee, A. (2005). Visuomotor links in awareness: Evidence from extinction. Neuroreport, 16(8), 843–847. https://doi.org/10.1080/17405629.2012.692965
  • Snyder, J., & Chatterjee, A. (2004). Spatial-temporal anisometries following right parietal damage. Neuropsychologia, 42(12), 1703–1708. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2004.04.003
  • Ricci, R., & Chatterjee, A. (2004). Sensory and response contributions to visual awareness in extinction. Experimental Brain Research, 157(1), 85–93. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-003-1823-8
  • Olson, E., Stark, M., & Chatterjee, A. (2003). Evidence for a unimodal somatosensory attention system. Experimental Brain Research, 151(1), 15–23. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-003-1428-2
  • Ricci, R., & Chatterjee, A. (2001). Context and crossover in unilateral neglect. Neuropsychologia, 39(11), 1138–1143. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0028-3932(01)00054-9
  • Vaishnavi, S., Calhoun, J., & Chatterjee, A. (2001). Binding personal and peripersonal space: Evidence from tactile extinction. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 13(2), 181–189. https://doi.org/10.1162/089892901564243
  • Chatterjee, A., Ricci, R., & Calhoun, J. (2000). Weighing the evidence for cross over in neglect. Neuropsychologia, 38(10), 1390–1397. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0028-3932(00)00042-7

Resources for conducting research in neuroaesthetics

Assessment of Art Attributes (AAA)

The AAA is an instrument designed to assess six formal-perceptual and six conceptual-representational attributes using 24 paintings from the Western canon.

Chatterjee, Widick, Sternschein, Smith, & Bromberger (2010)

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Assessment of Preference for Balance (APB)

Here, we introduce the assessment of preference for balance (APB) and report a method to derive an objective balance score.

Wilson & Chatterjee (2005)

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Face Image Meta-Database (fIMDb)

The fIMDb provides detailed information about sources for face photographs intended for use in research.

The fIMDB is available on the website of Cliff Workman, Ph.D.

↳ Visit fIMDb website

ChatLab Facial Anomaly Database (CFAD)

The CFAD was developed to facilitate research on biases towards individuals with facial anomalies. The database allows searching by age, sex, ethnicity, pose, and type/etiology of anomaly. Retrieve original stimuli or view images at various stages of pre-processing, e.g., normalized to interpupillary distance.

The CFAD is available on the website of Cliff Workman, Ph.D.

↳ Visit CFAD website

Cardillo Normed Metaphors

We provide 400 pairs of matched metaphoric and literal sentences. The set features metaphors of three types (nominal-entity, nominal-event, and predicate) and two modalities (sound, motion), and has been normed on 10+ psycholinguistic and theoretically-relevant properties (e.g. familiarity, interpretability, imageability, beauty).

Cardillo, Schmidt, Kranjec, & Chatterjee (2010)

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McQuire, McCollum, & Chatterjee (2016)

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Cardillo, Watson, & Chatterjee (2017)

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Ratinginstrument für zweidimensionale bildnerische Arbeiten (RizbA)—Rating Instrument for Two-Dimensional Pictorial Work

The RizbA is a 26-item survey designed to evaluate pictorial expression, as theoretically defined by 7 content areas: representation, color, shape, space, motion, composition, expression. English translations for survey items are provided in the original publication, and an empirically-validated version of the translated survey is in development.

Schoch, K., Gruber, H., Ostermann, T. (2017)

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↳ View preprint (available on Zenodo)

↳ Download materials (available on Zenodo)