A study done in London, in which subjects were shown art images while undergoing an MRI, shows that art affects the brain in powerful ways. So powerful that the blood flow to certain areas of the brain mimics the amounts that occur when a person beholds the face of a loved one. The type or subject of the painting did not seem to matter. Rather, the level of enjoyment that the person received from looking at the painting was the important factor.
If art stimulates the brain to this degree, can it actually aid in brain development and recovery? Doctors and educators tell us that art can play an important role in both learning and mental ability, beginning at the earliest stages of life. Healthy babies are born with all the brain synapses they need to learn anything they will need or desire to learn in life. It is important to stimulate those synapses as much as possible in childhood. Arts play an important role in developing cognitive, emotional, sensory and social skills. Art not only stimulates the right side of the brain that is usually associated with creative tendencies, but it also stimulates the left side of the brain, usually considered more logical and analytical. These benefits are not only seen in children. Adults are positively impacted in ways similar to their younger counterparts.
Art enhances our brain in several ways. Artistic activities spark creativity and make us more observant. The details that must be attended to in both creating and appreciating art can carry over to other areas in our lives, adding to our creative juices and observations in general. Creating art can foster a sense of accomplishment at having completed a task. The fact that art leaves itself open to the interpretation of the viewer can enhance our problem solving skills. Focusing on a piece of art, rather than just giving it a quick glance, allows us to determine several possible ways to interpret the meaning or message of the art. This interpretation process provides our brain an opportunity to be elastic and not think only within what is obvious or correct. The restful nature of creating art can help us escape from our worries and minimize our stress levels. Creating art can also improve our memory and cognitive abilities generally. As we age, we all need a way to stay sharp. An artistic hobby could be the perfect way to keep our brains as young as possible.