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Luis Miguel Goitizolo

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STUDIES SHOW THAT CREATING ART HELPS CANCER, REDUCES STRESS AND MORE
10/22/2015 11:01:55 PM

STUDIES SHOW THAT CREATING ART HELPS CANCER, REDUCES STRESS AND INCREASES BRAIN ACTIVITY

We’re always hearing in the news about the profound effect that art can have on our well being. Scientists have found various ways to utilize art in the medical fields and the world of the everyday. For example, it has been shown that the creation of art can have positive effects in the treatment of cancer, and that perhaps taking your lunch break at an art museum can reduce work-related stress.

The newest word on the subject is a recent study published by the Public Library of Science found that there was “a significant improvement in psychological resilience” among elderly participants in a class where they ‘did art,’ versus those who sat in on a verbal art class.

human-brain-artwork-andrzej-wojcickiMethodology

In ”How Art Changes Your Brain: Differential Effects of Visual Art Production and Cognitive Art Evaluation on Functional Brain Connectivity,” published in the journal PLOS One, study authors spoke about well-known changes in the well-being and stress levels of retirees.

However, their reason for conducting this particular study was that research on the possible effects of post-retirement activity on well-being is not well established.

So, for 10 weeks, scientists at a German University Hospital randomly assigned 14 retirees between 62 and 70 years of age to one or the other: a class where they produced art or a class on art appreciation.

Before the study began, participants completed a test measuring their emotional resilience and also had a brain MRI. At the end, the tests and MRIs were again conducted. The trial was then repeated.

Results

“We found a significant improvement in psychological resilience from pre-intervention to post-intervention in the visual art production group,” the scientists write. ”In the cognitive art evaluation group, in contrast, no significant improvement in psychological resilience…was found.” This means that, after the study concluded, the ‘art doing’ participants were better able to handle stress than their ‘art appreciating’ counterparts.

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Furthermore, scans showed an improved ‘effective interaction’ in the areas of the brain associated with memory, introspection and self-evaluation known as the default mode network among participants who had ‘done art.’

Since activity and communication within the default mode network typically decreases with age, the study represents hope for treating cognitive deficiencies related to aging.

Conclusion

01468Researchers still don’t know the answer as to why the study group did so well against the control, but they speculate:

“The improvements in the visual art production group may be partially attributable to a combination of motor and cognitive processing.” Also, they talk about how the creation of art is a ‘flow’ experience, which is personal and in which the artist is fully immersed.

This research bodes well for us as a population as the current workforce ages, and as the elderly are expected to comprise 1/5 of Americans by the year 2030. The point is that, at any age, picking up pencil or paintbrush can benefit our brains.


"Choose a job you love and you will not have to work a day in your life" (Confucius)

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