How Art Affects our Brains

Neuroscientists have conducted various studies on how art affects our brains for well over a decade and their findings seem to cement the stress relief benefits, with scientific evidence, that have long before only been assumed. 

Angela Clow (PhD) with Cathrine Fredhoi (MSc) from the Department of Psychology at the University of Westminster in London conducted research on the impact of a brief lunchtime visit to an art gallery by London City workers. By measuring actual cortisol levels before and after the visit, they found that not only did the levels drop but that they dropped rapidly and substantially. A drop that would normally take around five hours to occur normally.

Oshin Vartanian from the University of Toronto, an expert on the neuroscience of aesthetics and creativity, details which parts of the brain are activated while viewing art, after assessing fifteen different studies. Apart from the obvious areas involved in visual representation and object recognition, they also found the areas of the brain involved in processing emotion and those that activate our pleasure and reward systems are also being engaged! What’s even more interesting is that there is no need to have an affection for art or be instructed in any way for these areas to activate. 

Taking Oshin’s findings above, coupled with research done by Angela Clow it’s evident that introducing art into an office environment will work to destress staff, even on a completely subconscious level.