Drawing Can Change Your Brain In These 7 Ways, According To Science (2024)


Drawing Can Change Your Brain In These 7 Ways, According To Science

by Kyli Rodriguez-Cayro

Drawing Can Change Your Brain In These 7 Ways, According To Science (1)

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For some people, creating art is a passion, for others it's a hobby, and the rest would prefer to just admire art made by someone else. If you fall into that last category and haven't made art since hand-tracing turkeys in elementary school, you may want to try picking back up this creative hobby. Why? Science has shown drawing can change your brain — often times, for the better.

According to OZY, painter Pablo Picasso once said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” While visual art may have always been considered fulfilling and good for the soul, research is also discovering it's really good for your brain, and overall sense of wellness. Whether you are painting, drawing, sculpting, designing, collaging, making any kind of visual art — in any medium — packs a positive punch when it comes to your health.

It may be difficult to feel comfortable (and not judge your art!) working with clay or picking up pastels if you aren't an experienced artist. However, you don't have to be a trained or "talented" artist to glean the growing list of health benefits that creating visual art has to offer. From alleviating depression, to improving your attention span, here are 7 ways that making art can positively impact you.


Drawing Improves Your Memory

As Artsy reported this past May, a 2016 study led by Yale University researchers "observed a phenomenon they termed the 'drawing effect' — that illustrating a word’s meaning always leads to the highest levels of memory recall." So, if you're ever struggling to commit a big presentation to memory, sketching it out may help you better retain the information.


Art Making Reduces Anxiety

If you're feeling stressed, research has indicated that creating art may help you relax and unwind. A 2011 study found that art projects reduced anxiety levels in college students. What's more, Psychology Today reported a study published this year in The Journal of Korean Medical Science discovered that mindful art therapy helped ease anxiety symptoms in people with heart disease.


And, It Makes You Happier

Unsurprisingly, creating visual artwork can not only reduce anxiety, but it has been shown to mitigate depression in research. A study published in 2017 discovered that people with moderate or severe depression who participated in art therapy showed major improvement after just 10, hour-long sessions.

According to Psychology Today, a 2017 study conducted by researchers in Hong Kong found "clay art therapy" also seemed to have a positive impact on adults with depression.


Creating Art May Help Ease Physical Pain

Who would've thought that making art could have pain relieving properties? Matthew Solan, the Executive Editor of Harvard Men's Health Watch, explained in an article for the Harvard Health Blog that, "Art therapy helps lower the perception of pain by moving your mental focus away from the painful stimulus." He added, "It is not simply a distraction, but rather a way to teach you how to relax and alter your mood, so the pain doesn’t control your emotional state."

Creating art won't completely take physical pain away, but it could be a useful tool when it coming to managing it.


It Can Make You More Resilient

Interestingly enough, drawing or making any kind of visual art could make it easier to deal with stressful or upsetting situations. According to a 2014 study published in PLOS One, creating art can improve your overall cognitive functioning, and lead to more "psychological resilience in adulthood."


Making Art Improves Concentration

Dr. Michael Posner, Professor Emeritus at the University of Oregon and an adjunct professor at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, explained in a 2009 article for The Dana Foundation that because art improves cognitive functioning, researchers have hypothesized that performing any kind of art can improve your attention and focus.

"We know that the brain has a system of neural pathways dedicated to attention. We know that training these attention networks improves general measures of intelligence," wrote Dr. Posner. "We can be fairly sure that focusing our attention on learning and performing an art — if we practice frequently and are truly engaged —activates these same attention networks."


It Can Make You Even More Creative

Studies suggest that the more you make art, the more creative you'll become. Research from 2015, published in the scientific journal NeuroImage, revealed that college students studying drawing and painting actually became better artists. The increase of creativity was due to white matter in the prefrontal cortex reorganizing, which is pretty dang neat.


Whether you pick up a paint brush, sketch with some pens, or take a pottery class, making art can help you manage your mood and more. You might also just get a nice decoration out of it, too.

Drawing Can Change Your Brain In These 7 Ways, According To Science (2024)


How does drawing change your brain? ›

Drawing increases many of the cognitive functions that researches typically label as the 'creative' and 'right brained' activities. Intuition increases. Produces positive brain chemistry like Serotonin, Endorphins, Dopamine, and Norepinephrine.

Can drawing improve IQ? ›

Although drawing is not commonly thought of as a manifestation of intelligence, it is in fact an intellectual exercise that allows an individual to use visualization as a way to understand and project concepts— apprehension.

What is the science behind drawing? ›

We use our brains when we draw, and this not only releases endorphins, but helps build new connections and pathways. When drawing, we actively use both sides of our brain, the right for creativity, and the left for logical thinking. This strengthens both and helps develop the ability to focus and think strategically.

How can drawing change your life? ›

Enlightening, challenging, and informative, visual art can also be therapeutic, reducing anxiety and stress levels, and offering perspective on the challenges that we all face in our lives.

Does drawing affect your mental health? ›

Drawing enhances your creativity and activates your brain

Drawing actively opens your brain to creative thinking. Developing a sense of imagination helps stimulate the brain, creating new pathways allowing you to process new ideas and engage in creative problem-solving.

What happens to your mind when you draw? ›

Not only is drawing a form of literacy, it also helps your memory! A study from Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology found that participants that doodled were 29% more likely to remember mundane information. IT MAKES YOU HAPPY: When you draw, you release Serotonin, Endorphins, Dopamine, and Norepinephrine.

Why is drawing so powerful? ›

So when we draw, we encode the memory in a very rich way, layering together the visual memory of the image, the kinesthetic memory of our hand drawing the image, and the semantic memory that is invoked when we engage in meaning-making.

Does drawing train your brain? ›

Drawing can enhance memory and is found to be a reliable, replicable means of boosting performance. Drawing enhances the learning of individual words. Drawing improves memory by promoting the integration of the elaborative pictorial and motor codes, facilitating measurable gains in performance in aging individuals.

What psychology says about drawing? ›

Drawing is nothing more than a way of communicating, creating, saying something. Many people, when drawing, relieve fears or internal conflicts by expressing them and projecting them on a sheet of paper.

Why is drawing healthy? ›

A sketching habit strengthens fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. New pathways form and, according to studies, increase blood flow to the reward center in your brain. You are training your eyes to deliver visual information to your brain, which, in turn, communicates with your hand.

How does drawing affect emotions? ›

Art is an immediate mood-booster, and it fosters feelings of relaxation, creativity, and inspiration. Many studies have shown that both creating and looking at art can support mental wellbeing. Any form of art can help reduce stress hormones, while increasing endorphins and dopamine in our brain.

Does drawing make you better? ›

The more you draw, the better you will get. As I look back through my journals, I see that every time I challenged myself to try a new idea, I made a leap forward. What paper to use? Try all sorts of papers and notebooks and gradually you'll start noticing differences.

What does drawing do to your body? ›

A sketching habit strengthens fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. New pathways form and, according to studies, increase blood flow to the reward center in your brain. You are training your eyes to deliver visual information to your brain, which, in turn, communicates with your hand.

Does drawing give you dopamine? ›

When the artist's hand begins a drawing, the mind releases dopamine. That tells the brain to “Pay attention—this will be rewarding in the end”. Motivated to see that reward, the brain focuses on the drawing, and then relaxes when it is complete: reward.

Are artists brains different? ›

Artists have structurally different brains compared with non-artists. “Brain scans revealed that artists had increased neural matter in areas relating to fine motor movements and visual imagery. “The research, published in NeuroImage, suggests that an artist's talent could be innate.

How art can change your mind? ›

All art can broaden knowledge, give enjoyment, and challenge our assumptions; but it can also help soothe, calm, enlighten, and uplift the mind and spirit. Even art that leaves us uncomfortable can still help us to think differently and give us new perspective.

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