Science Shows Art Can Do Incredible Things for Your Mind and Body (2024)

Art's sweet relationship with the brain and body makes a trip to the museum worth it.

There's no doubt that art has helped shape society. We build galleries that host priceless creations from the world's best talent. People all over the world are familiar with famous paintings such as the "Mona Lisa," and everything from architecture to fashion falls within the realm of art. But beyond simply appreciating the craft and enriching our lives, can science measure the effect art hason us?

Yes, yes it can. Art can do the brain and body some real good, beyond equipping you with dinner party talking points. Here's the breakdown:

Experiencing art decreases stress levels.

A study from the University of Westminster found that participants' stress levels decreased after a lunchtime visit to an art gallery. Participants self-reported their stress levels before entering the gallery and then spent 35 minutes exploring the space in any way they wanted. Upon exiting, they expressed being less stressed. Furthermore, they also had lower concentrations of cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone.

The catch? There was only a decrease in cortisol levels if the visitor came in with relatively high levels. But considering how many of us have hectic work lifestyles and are balancing tons of different things, those with low stress are few and far between.

Plenty of maladies stem from chronic stress, including anxiety, sleep problems and memory impairment. But as the study shows, chowing down on a sandwich while surveying some art can help ward off those health problems.

The brain is hardwired to process art.

After analyzing 15 studies that had people looking at art for different reasons, neuroscientist Oshin Vartanian explainedin a Q&A that "areas of the brain involved in processing emotion and those that activate our pleasure and reward systems are also being engaged." Essentially, parts of the brain that are associated with contemplation are automatically sparked when viewing art, even if they aren't thinking about it critically.

Many of these studies used fMRIs to look at neural systems while responding to paintings. The interior insula, which is connected to pleasant emotions, and the putamen, the area that has ties to the experience of reward, are two sectors of the brain that are triggered by viewing art.

It's expected that the brain will recognizefaces and process scenes when you look at art. But parts of the brain linked to emotions also show activity in the process. It looks like you don't need a degree in art history to break down what's going on in a painting -- your brain is already doing it.

But perhaps the biggest benefits come from actually producing art.

Along with the perks of enjoying and experiencing art, there are real-world benefits to making the art with your own two hands. According to a 2014 study, producing visual art improved psychological resilience and increased brain activity for the participants by the end of the experiment.

The study had two groups of recent retirees. One group was given lessons by an art educator and the participants actively created pieces of visual art that displayed their own personal form of artistic expression. The other group was treated more like a discussion class, where they talked about and interpreted selected paintings and sculptures. Both groups had their brains scanned before and after the period of courses.

Of the two groups, the one that produced art reaped the neural benefit of increased connectivity in the brain's default mode network over the ten weeks of art class. This area deals with cognitive process like introspection, self-monitoring and memory.

As Hyperallergic points out, the researchers speculate that the first group got the gains because of the combination of motor and cognitive processing. They state in the study, "The visual art production intervention involved the development of personal expression and attentional focus on self-related experience during art creation." Utilizing motor skills and thinking about art together becomes more beneficial instead of doing either separately.

It's easy to take art for granted, but paintings, sculptures, photographs and more can all lead to healthier states, with better brain activity and less stress. So turn off the television (Netflix isn't going anywhere) and pay a visit to the closest gallery or museum for some noggin jogging. While we've known art is a powerful tool to record history and ignite inspiration, now there's science proving art's gifts to the mind.

Science Shows Art Can Do Incredible Things for Your Mind and Body (2024)


Science Shows Art Can Do Incredible Things for Your Mind and Body? ›

In another study, cognitive neuroscientists found that creating art reduces cortisol levels (markers for stress), and that through art people can induce positive mental states. These studies are part of a new field of research, called neuroesthetics: the scientific study of the neurobiological basis of the arts."

How does art help with science? ›

Why is art vital to the study of science? The reason why art is necessary to science is that creativity involves imagination and imagination is visualization. Oftentimes, the ability to visualize and imagine certain processes is important to solving scientific problems.

How does art help the mind? ›

Art as Therapy

Stress reduction: Art can serve as a form of meditation, helping to lower stress levels and promote relaxation. Self-awareness: Through creating art, individuals can gain insights into their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, fostering a greater sense of self-understanding.

Why is art good for the body? ›

Because of these feel-good effects, art is a powerful tool for self-care and mental health. Studies have shown that expression through art can help people with depression, anxiety, and stress. Art has also been linked to improved memory, reasoning, and resilience in aging adults.

How does art affect the body? ›

Whether it's part of a creative arts therapy exercise, or something you experience in your everyday life, art can help: Increase serotonin levels. Increase blood flow to the part of the brain associated with pleasure. Foster new ways of thinking.

How do art and science go together? ›

Another way that art and science are working together is through interdisciplinary collaboration. Artists and scientists are working together on research projects and experiments, combining their different skills and ways of looking at the world to learn more about and understand it.

How does art compliment science? ›

Art can also serve as a way to better understand the sciences by acting as a point of connection for non-experts to scientific concepts. Art often seeks to connect to people, and because of this, it can be used to connect people to the sciences through familiarity and emotion.

Why is art so special to us humans? ›

Self-Expression and Awareness: Art provides a platform to voice our feelings, thoughts, and identities. Contemplation and Reflection: Through art, we can introspect and ponder life's mysteries. Entertainment and Joy: Beyond its deeper meanings, art can also be sheer fun and enjoyment.

How does art influence thinking? ›

1) Art can broaden your perspective.

When you're able to think creatively it can open you up to finding new solutions you otherwise wouldn't have thought of. “It's like looking at an image upside down, to see it for what it is and not just as the image your eye is “trained” to see.

How do the arts develop the brain? ›

Art enhances the ability of the hippocampus and the other areas of your brain to perform the tasks that they were designed to do by increasing the synaptic circuits. This helps not only in the playing of music but in any life activity where learning and memory are needed.

Why is art so healing? ›

Art can harness the healing power within each of us and help bring us into community with one another. In the presence of art, we may experience inspiration, wonder, and even hope; it can spark our imagination, creativity, and thinking.

How does art affect mental health? ›

It can help to boost confidence and make us feel more engaged and resilient. Besides these benefits, art engagement also alleviates anxiety, depression and stress.

How does art affect human life? ›

Art has the power to change the way we see the world, awakening us to new perspectives, ideas, and values. It can take us back in time to reflect on our past or push us further into our future. Art can bring awareness to social issues and foster a sense of acceptance — bringing people together regardless of background.

How powerful can art be? ›

It can evoke empathy, inspire change, and challenge societal norms. Whether it's a painting, a sculpture, or a photograph, every piece of art is a testament to the power of visual communication, making artwork a truly impactful form of artful communication.

What does art do to the brain? ›

There is increasing evidence in rehabilitation medicine and the field of neuroscience that art enhances brain function by impacting brain wave patterns, emotions, and the nervous system. Art can also raise serotonin levels. These benefits don't just come from making art, they also occur by experiencing art.

Can art change your life? ›

Art gives us meaning and helps us understand our world. Scientific studies have proven that art appreciation improves our quality of life and makes us feel good. When we create art, we elevate our mood, we improve our ability to problem solve, and open our minds to new ideas. According to Dr.

How is science related to art and culture? ›

Science and art both rely on observation and synthesis: taking what is seen and creating something new from it. Our society could hardly exist without either, but when they come together our culture is enriched, sometimes in unexpected ways.

What do artists and scientists have in common? ›

Creativity, passion, and initiative are common to scientists and artists alike. Both fields require the drive and ability to find one's own way and new solutions. Scientists and artists strive to find truth: for scientists this is ob- jective truth, while for artists it doesn't have to mean the same thing to everyone.

Why the arts are as important as science or math? ›

Art Enhances Creativity and Imagination

Whether it's sculpting, painting, or drawing, art enables people to experiment with new ideas and materials. In addition to improving their artistic skills, this creative freedom also affects other areas of their lives, enabling them to approach problem-solving with an open mind.

How is art used in biology? ›

Bio Art is an artistic method that uses nature as inspiration and as a medium, merging the lines between art and biology. It varies from the study of molecular biology, biotechnology, and human science to using elements of nature and highlighting their capabilities.

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