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In Frontiers in psychology ; h5-index 92.0

While art is omnipresent in human history, the neural mechanisms of how we perceive, value and differentiate art has only begun to be explored. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies suggested that art acts as secondary reward, involving brain activity in the ventral striatum and prefrontal cortices similar to primary rewards such as food. However, potential similarities or unique characteristics of art-related neuroscience (or neuroesthetics) remain elusive, also because of a lack of adequate experimental tools: the available collections of art stimuli often lack standard image definitions and normative ratings. Therefore, we here provide a large set of well-characterized, novel art images for use as visual stimuli in psychological and neuroimaging research. The stimuli were created using a deep learning algorithm that applied different styles of popular paintings (based on artists such as Klimt or Hundertwasser) on ordinary animal, plant and object images which were drawn from established visual stimuli databases. The novel stimuli represent mundane items with artistic properties with proposed reduced dimensionality and complexity compared to paintings. In total, 2,332 novel stimuli are available open access as "" database at with standard image characteristics that are comparable to other common visual stimuli material in terms of size, variable color distribution, complexity, intensity and valence, measured by image software analysis and by ratings derived from a human experimental validation study [n = 1,296 (684f), age 30.2 ± 8.8 y.o.]. The experimental validation study further showed that the elicit a broad and significantly different variation in subjective value ratings (i.e., liking and wanting) as well as in recognizability, arousal and valence across different art styles and categories. Researchers are encouraged to study the perception, processing and valuation of art images based on the database which also enables real reward remuneration of the rated stimuli (as art prints) and a direct comparison to other rewards from e.g., food or money. Key Messages: We provide an open access, validated and large set of novel stimuli (n = 2,332) of standardized art images including normative rating data to be used for experimental research. Reward remuneration in experimental settings can be easily implemented for the by e.g., handing out the stimuli to the participants (as print on premium paper or in a digital format), as done in the presented validation task. Experimental validation showed that the' images elicit a broad and significantly different variation in subjective value ratings (i.e., liking, wanting) across different art styles and categories, while size, color and complexity characteristics remained comparable to other visual stimuli databases.

Thieleking Ronja, Medawar Evelyn, Disch Leonie, Witte A Veronica


art, experimental database, fMRI, remuneration, reward, stimuli, subjective value, wanting and liking