Merging Art and the Human Brain Through a Psychology Degree at Webster Vienna
September 01, 2022
Webster Vienna Professor Luca Ticini, Ph.D., combines two seemingly different topics - brain science and art - into one fascinating subdiscipline of psychology: neuroaesthetics.
“What happens in your brain when you look at an artwork?" Ticini asked. "How does the pleasure you derive from music shape your brain? How does love change your behavior?"
Ticini, who serves as head of the Psychology department, dives into the those questions in his classes at Webster Vienna. He conducts his research with a multidisciplinary approach to art and human brain sciences and has made contributions to help develop the field of neuroaesthetics. He has also co-organized several international initiatives in this research field.
Ticini's diverse background also includes research and formal studies in business, so he can help students understand how to apply their Psychology degree in the business world.
Diving into the Field of Neuroaesthetics
“Neuroaesthetics is a relatively recent and very exciting subdiscipline of empirical aesthetics,” Ticini said. “It uses the techniques of neuroscience (fMRI, EEG, MEG, etc.) in order to better characterize our aesthetic experiences - our preferences for art and objects - and to investigate the decision-making processes at the neurobiological and psychological levels.”
Learning about Neuroaesthetics allows students to answer challenging questions while exploring a new subdiscipline of psychology.
Ticini explained how neuroaesthetics may be woven into the Psychology curriculum.
“The field of neuroaesthetics was pioneered by Semir Zeki, professor at University College London," Ticini said. "He is a recipient of the Chopin Professorship at Webster Vienna. He will be engaged in some of our activities in this scientific discipline during the next academic year. We incorporate neuroaesthetics in the course Introduction to Psychology as an example of a discipline students can specialize in after their bachelor studies in Psychology."
Webster Vienna also offers an elective course on neuroaesthetics, which runs for 12 weeks and is offered every second year, so students have many opportunities to take the class.
Many instructors at WVPU, like Ticini, are researchers, which gives students a unique perspective.
“The courses I teach at WVPU touch upon fields of research I have been involved in at different stages in my life, such as biology, neuropsychology, neurophysiology, cognitive neuroscience, neuroaesthetics and human evolution," he said. "In class, I tap into my multidisciplinary knowledge, while integrating teaching and my own research or work conducted by colleagues around the world.
“Beyond bringing real-life knowledge to the classroom, I also enjoy adding my personal touch that hopefully enriches my lectures with first-hand experience, personal anecdotes and curiosities, making the process of learning more enjoyable,” he added.
Interdisciplinary Opportunities for Psychology Degree Holders
Ticini's diverse background in various subdisciplines may inspire students to pursue a similar path or help them find specializations based on their own interests.
“At the undergraduate level, our students acquire the tools to navigate psychology and neuroscience," he said. "They also are asked to do scientific research during their thesis, and at this stage, it is not uncommon that students discover their own interests and figure out what they would like to pursue afterward, for instance, in a master's course. Our faculty is enthusiastic to advise students about the possibilities that best suit their passions and interests. The opportunities are endless.”
He offered a few examples: “Alumni equipped with a bachelor's degree in Psychology enter the job market with a good knowledge of the human brain and human behavior, and therefore, can be involved in human resources, market research and other positions that require an understanding of the human mind."
Ticini said combining a Psychology degree with an MBA, like he did, offers students flexibility and an "interdisciplinary profile."
As students look to pursue a psychology program, Ticini advised, "Be open-minded, respectful, committed and enthusiastic. After all, you are going to study the most complex and mysterious organ in the known universe.”
Do you want to pursue a bachelor's degree in Psychology? Contact Webster Vienna Private University for more information!