Amy Belfi

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Works of art, such as music, paintings, and poetry, can tap in to our strongest emotions. Your favorite song may evoke joy and nostalgia, often transporting you to memories from the past. In my dissertation work, I used the lesion method to study the role of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) in this relationship between music, emotion, and autobiographical memory. To extend this line of research, my current work investigates the role of the mPFC, and the default mode network (DMN) generally, during aesthetic experiences of music, poetry, and visual art. In particular, I aim to characterize both the behavioral and neural timecourse of the aesthetic experience. That is, when viewing a piece of art, how does our subjective experience unfold over time, and how is this represented in the activity of the DMN? To this end, I use psychophysical and neuroimaging methods (fMRI) to answer such philosophically-motivated questions about the aesthetic experience.




  1. Belfi, A. M., Chen, K-H, Schneider, B.,& Tranel. D. (in press). Neurological damage disrupts normal sex differences in psychophysiological responses to music. Psychophysiology.
  2. Belfi, A. M., Karlan, B.,& Tranel, D. (2015). Music evokes vivid autobiographical memories. Memory.
  3. Belfi, A. M., Koscik, T. R.,& Tranel, D. (2015). Damage to the insula is associated with abnormal interpersonal trust. Neuropsychologia, 71, 165-172.
  4. Belfi, A. M.& Tranel, D. (2014). Impaired naming of famous musical melodies is associated with left temporal polar damage. Neuropsychology, 28, 429-435.
  5. Belfi, A. M., Conrad, A. L., Dawson, J.,& Nopoulos, P. (2014). Masculinity/Femininity predicts brain volumes in normal healthy children. Developmental Neuropsychology, 39, 25-36.