“Painting embraces all the ten functions of the eye; that is to say, darkness, light, body and color, shape and location, distance and closeness, motion and rest.”

~Leonardo da Vinci

Experiments and Observations

After analyzing 15 studies of people looking at art for different reasons, neuroscientist Oshin Vartanian explained in a Q&A session 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.

A study from the University of Westminster found that participants stress levels decreased after a 35-minute visit to an art gallery. Furthermore, they also had lower concentrations of Cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone.

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.

“Art accesses some of the most advanced processes of human intuitive analysis and expressivity and a key form of aesthetic appreciation is through embodied cognition, the ability to project oneself as an agent in the depicted scene,” said Christopher Tyler, director of the Smith-Kettlewell Brain Imaging Center, during the related panel discussion.

At the exhibit, which runs through 3 January 2014, attendees wear 3D glasses, look at posters covered with abstract shapes, and identify which shapes they find the most and least appealing. They then have the opportunity to compare their results to those of human subjects studied in the lab and with fMRI imaging, as well as those of the thousands of attendees who visited the exhibit in 2010 when it was hosted by the Walters Art Museum. Results showed improved psychological resilience and increased brain activity for the participants by the end of the experiment. Art treatment technique was known in ancient times, now science is proving what our  ancestors knew about. Analysis of research reports shows the importance of art treatment and it is gaining popularity in western countries.

Professor Semir Zeki, chair in neuroaesthetics at University College London, who conducted the experiment, said: “We wanted to see what happens in the brain when you look at beautiful paintings?

The blood flow increased for a beautiful painting just as it increases when you look at somebody you love. It tells us art induces a feel good sensation direct to the brain.

Professor Zeki: “What we are doing is giving scientific truth to what has been known for a long time – that beautiful painting makes us feel much better.


More benefits

It relieves chronic stress including anxiety, sleep problems and memory impairment. They improve overall behav­ior and reduce impulsiveness.It enables you to plan ahead and resist impulses so you can achieve your goals.

It boosts drive, focus, and concentration.

When you look at art – whether it is a landscape, a still life, an abstract or a portrait – there is strong activity in that part of the brain related to pleasure.

By drawing and viewing painting, patients are increasing connectivity between the right and left hemispheres of the brain and growing new brain cells.Your brain’s ability to grow connections and change throughout your lifetime is called brain plasticity or neuroplasticity.

Art enhances cognitive abilities and memory, even for people with serious brain disorders.Dementia is mainly thought of as a memory loss problem, but patients also experience symptoms such as agitation, aggression, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Credits : bebrainfit.com | smithsonianmag.com | telegraph.co.uk

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