As if we didn't already know this!
At this point, we know that art has multiple effects on our brain, can keep our brains healthy longer and have other health benefits that we might not know about. Here are some of them.
Our brains were designed to appreciate and process artwork. Recent studies have shown that looking at art can activate the pleasure centers of our brain. A study that had people looking at art noticed that the centers of the brain that process emotions and create pleasure were being engaged while the person was looking at art. Both sectors were triggered through an appreciation of art.
And although our brains make us feel pleasure through the act of analyzing artwork, our brains actually do more for us through the acts of creating art. In a 2014 study we've mentioned before in this blog, creating visual art increased brain activity and resiliency for the participants of the experiment. So basically, older people should be creating more art so that their brains stay more active. in the study, the brains of the participants were monitored for a few weeks while they created art in a classroom setting. At the end of the experiment, the study reported that the brains of the participants showed improved functionality in cognitive processes such as introspection, self-monitoring, awareness and even memory.
This is your brain on art.
Another thing that viewing and creating art can do for us, is decrease stress. We've discussed how coloring books are being prescribed by French therapists in order to decrease stress, but now there is new information out of the University of Westminster that has found that viewing art can significantly decrease stress levels.
Doctors of the University of Westminster conducted an experiment where people self-reported their stress levels before and after viewing art at a local art gallery during their lunch breaks. Given 35 minutes to explore the gallery at their leisure, each person reported lower levels of cortisol, the stress creating hormone.
So next time you feel like your job or home life is stressing you out too much, maybe a trip to the museum or pulling out your paints or art journal might just help relieve stress and lower cortisol levels a bit more than happy hour.