Your Brain on Art
I came upon the following article while reading the December 2014 issue of Watercolor Artist. Normally I would not repost an article but I found this one especially interesting since I, myself, plan on retiring in 2015. Therefore, I would like everyone who is retired or is planning on retiring soon to think about the message in the article and take the opportunity to become more creative for your own mental and physical health.
Your Brain on Art
A new study proves creating visual art after retirement does a body – and mind good.
Sure, creating art makes us feel good, but a recent study conducted in Germany suggests it might be beneficial to our brains as well. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain activity in recent retirees, Anne Bolwerk, Jessica Mack-Andrick, Frieder R. Lang, Arnd Dorfler and Christian Maiofner endeavored to learn what neural effects visual art has on humans. They published their results – evidence that indicates producing visual art does indeed improve brain function – in an article, “How Art Changes Your Brain: Differential Effects of Visual Art Production and Cognitive Art Evaluation on Functional Brain Connectivity,” in PLOS ONE, and international, peer-reviewed online journal.
Throughout a 10-week period, one group of 14 men and women ages 62 to 70 participated in hands-on art classes, while another group of 14 took art appreciation course. Before the experiment, all 28 had their brains scanned and completed a test to measure their emotional resilience. At the end of the 10 weeks, they underwent another brain scan and more testing for comparison. The brains of those who were physically creating art showed “a significant improvement is psychological resilience,” or stress resistance, whereas those of the participants in the art appreciation class did not – possibly due to the motor skills and problem solving involved with actual creation. Additionally, for the hands-on art class group evidence revealed improved “effective interaction” between regions of the brain known as the default mode network, which processes introspection, self-monitoring, memory and emotional recognition in others. According to the research, interaction in that region of the brain declines with age; therefore creating visual art has the potential to reverse its deterioration.
Find more details at www.plosone.org.
So, that is the article and my take on it is to become creative. Even though the study was done on a group of people between the ages of 62 to 70 I don’t think that the same result could not apply to anyone of any age group. Making your body and your brain feel good has no downside.