The impact of crossmodal predictions on the neural processing of aesthetic stimuli

Marianne Tiihonen*, Niels Trusbak Haumann, Yury Shtyrov, Peter Vuust, Thomas Jacobsen, Elvira Brattico

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Neuroaesthetic research has focused on neural predictive processes involved in the encounter with art stimuli or the related evaluative judgements, and it has been mainly conducted unimodally. Here, with electroencephalography, magnetoencephalography and an affective priming protocol, we investigated whether and how the neural responses to non-representational aesthetic stimuli are top-down modulated by affective representational (i.e. semantically meaningful) predictions between audition and vision. Also, the neural chronometry of affect processing of these aesthetic stimuli was investigated. We hypothesized that the early affective components of crossmodal aesthetic responses are dependent on the affective and representational predictions formed in another sensory modality resulting in differentiated brain responses, and that audition and vision indicate different processing latencies for affect. The target stimuli were aesthetic visual patterns and musical chords, and they were preceded by a prime from the opposing sensory modality. We found that early auditory-cortex responses to chords were more affected by valence than the corresponding visual-cortex ones. Furthermore, the assessments of visual targets were more facilitated by affective congruency of crossmodal primes than the acoustic targets. These results indicate, first, that the brain uses early affective information for predictively guiding aesthetic responses; second, that an affective transfer of information takes place crossmodally, mainly from audition to vision, impacting the aesthetic assessment. This article is part of the theme issue 'Art, aesthetics and predictive processing: theoretical and empirical perspectives'.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20220418
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2024


  • aesthetic emotion
  • affective predictive processing
  • electroencephalography
  • magnetoencephalography
  • neuroaesthetics
  • sensory multimodality


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