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Your Brain on Art

What you see is what you get, at least according to Brain and Cognition.  In the journal a theory is publicized that appreciating art and creative works can change the way you think. According to the study, enjoying art might actually change the way you perceive the world.

The study, which spanned eight years and seven countries, was based on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans taken of test participants while viewing art. No matter what they viewed, the study proved what artist has always known -there is always a reaction to art. In fact, this reaction might tell us quite a bit about how and why we process information.

The study itself resulted in several sets of findings. The first is perhaps the least surprising – that the elements of artwork provokes a response in the visual cortex.

The interesting part of the study is found elsewhere in the brain. Viewing art also stimulated the anterior temporal lobe, a part of the brain involved in higher-level thinking related to how things work. This means that not only does art stimulate our senses, but it also impacts our cognitive processes.

The study even generated a surprise for the researchers when it showed that art activated a part of  the brain that is generally linked to emotions and inner thoughts. This may mean that art itself can trigger a variety of emotions in the human mind, including pleasure or pain. Which places the appreciation of art not merely a cultural construct, but an integral part of human evolution.

Science documents what art lovers have always known – art stirs the human spirit.