Habitat Vitamins~ Effects of Viewing Art

What increases growth in critical thinking, compassion & tolerance, lowers our blood pressure & resting HR, sparks our imagination, influences our eating choices, motivates us to work out longer, invites relaxation, improves quality of life of all ages?

Clue: you don’t have to ingest anything… and you don’t have to practice it.

What happens to our brains when we view art?
“In psychology of art, the relationship between art and emotion has newly been the subject of extensive study. Emotional or aesthetic responses to art have previously been viewed as basic stimulus response, but new theories and research have suggested that these experiences are more complex and able to be studied experimentally”

This article suggests the area of the brain that experiences not just emotion, but goal setting is activated when viewing art.

From Visual Thinking Strategies:
“We also found that given certain key elements in the design of aesthetic encounters, growth in critical and creative thinking accompanied growth in aesthetic thought. In other words, in the process of looking at and talking about art, the viewer is developing skills not ordinarily associated with art. These findings were consistent over a wide range of cultural and socioeconomic contexts.”

I have long believed we don’t have to be educated in art, or even a fan to receive it’s benefits.
Training in marketing during my advertising career taught me~
We are influenced by our surroundings whether we are consciously aware or not.

The newest research is fascinating.
We can directly apply this to how we choose art for our personal surroundings, work and public areas like schools and hospitals.

In a past post, patients in the hip replacement study weren’t aware art was a factor, but their healing improved when art was introduced in the study.
In the same post, research discovered surprisingly, people exposed to art on their lunch breaks created more acts of random kindness.

Subjects in another study were placed in a room at a table with a screen projecting paintings, or an abstract screen saver. They were instructed to eat as much as they wanted from a bowl of candies. They ate less when exposed to the paintings.

The fitness study quoted in Runners World 2007 isn’t surprising, “A team of Boston researches discovered looking at paintings of favourite vacation spots helped exercisers work out longer.”

Scientists are uncovering interesting facts using MRI imaging.
Via “Brain scans reveal the power of Art
“Human guinea pigs underwent brain scans while being shown a series of 30 paintings by some of the world’s greatest artists.
The artworks they considered most beautiful increased blood flow in a certain part of the brain by as much as 10 per cent – the equivalent to gazing at a loved one.’
‘Professor Zeki added: “What we are doing is giving scientific truth to what has been known for a long time – that beautiful paintings makes us feel much better. But what we didn’t realize until we did these studies is just how powerful the effect on the brain is.”

The Smithsonian Magazine.com topic of neuroaesthetics
“How Does the Brain Process Art?” enlightens us to fascinating findings using a technique called trans­cranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
While viewing Michelangelo’s Expulsion from Paradise “excited areas in the primary motor cortex that controlled the observers’ own wrists.”

Speak Art Loud states
“Art positively impacts both individual and community wellbeing. Incorporating art into own daily life, into our community and into our health care systems will help us all create good health.
Art is used to educate medical professionals; Analyzing art provides a new way of “seeing” and helps medical students become more skillful at diagnosing patients.
“Courses in arts observation can help doctors hone their clinical skills, said Dr. Caroline Wellbery, co-author of a research paper on the role of arts education in medicine, published last month in the journal Academic Research.” –Globe and Mail Aug. 2015

In her Ted NPR, Tierney ThyThys mentions desire to exercise our brain, increase focus & concentration, speed healing, release stress, increase energy, inspire creativity;
 surround ourselves with nature. If people are unable to venture outdoors, just imagery of nature can have a powerful effect.

Scientists say they are just scratching the surface of discovering the true power of art on our minds & bodies.
Thou the public may be surprised at these findings, I think Artists have known, either intuitively, or consciously, since we began drawing in caves.

It’s just super cool now science is backing us up.

Note from my client (who purchased a “Sunset” original painting) works in the field of Education:
“I had a little boy who is quite autistic visiting my office.He went right up to ‘Sunset’ and just quietly stared. I gently asked him, “Tell me what you see.” Without taking his eyes off of it, he replied, “The beach.”
It was a special moment, and certainly affirmation for me that the Arts have the ability to cross all academic divides and social barriers.”