Aesthetic experiences have an influence on many aspects of life. Interest in the neural basis of aesthetic experiences has grown rapidly in the past decade, and fMRI studies have identified several brain systems supporting aesthetic experiences. Work on the rapid neuronal dynamics of aesthetic experience, however, is relatively scarce. This study adds to this field by investigating the experience of being aesthetically moved by means of ERP and time–frequency analysis. Participants’ EEG was recorded while they viewed a diverse set of artworks and evaluated the extent to which these artworks moved them. Results show that being aesthetically moved is associated with a sustained increase in gamma activity over centroparietal regions. In addition, alpha power over right frontocentral regions was reduced in high- and low-moving images, compared to artworks given intermediate ratings. We interpret the gamma effect as an indication for sustained savoring processes for aesthetically moving artworks compared to aesthetically less-moving artworks. The alpha effect is interpreted as an indication of increased attention for aesthetically salient images. In contrast to previous works, we observed no significant effects in any of the established ERP components, but we did observe effects at latencies longer than 1 sec. We conclude that EEG time–frequency analysis provides useful information on the neuronal dynamics of aesthetic experience.
Strijbosch, W., Vessel, E. A., Welke, D., Mitas, O., Gelissen, J., & Bastiaansen, M. (2022). On the neuronal dynamics of aesthetic experience: Evidence from electroencephalographic oscillatory dynamics. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 34(3), 461-479. Article Link.