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8th January, 2016

Making art changes the way our brains work

Researchers in Germany have found that producing art can cause neural and psychological changes in our brains.

Anne Bolwerk and colleagues from the University Hospital Erlangen and Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg recruited 28 adults and asked them to either evaluate art at a museum or actively produce art in an art class over a 10 week period.

Using functional MRI brain scanning, which analyses blood flow to the brain, the researchers tracked changes to participants’ neural pathways. They found that the participants who produced art showed increased brain activity in the areas associated with self-awareness and memory processing and showed signs of becoming better able to adapt to stress and adversity. By contrast, there were no significantly altered brain patterns in the group that evaluated art in a museum.

This is the first study to show both neural and psychological changes when adults produce art. The team behind the results say that more research is necessary in order to understand how important these changes are and what long-terms effects they might have. The paper, published in PLOS One, is summarised on CultureCase.org – a free online resource from King’s that provides summaries of carefully selected academic research from universities and scholars around the world that can add value to the work of the cultural sector.

You can sign up to receive updates from CultureCase and keep abreast of new research relating to the arts and creativity via the CultureCase website: www.culturecase.org.


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