The human brain is actually designed to enjoy art, according to a recent study conducted by the University of Toronto. It turns out looking at artwork activates a number of different areas in the brain, which suggests that art appreciation is actually a natural biological process.
Scientists at the University of Toronto analyzed the combined data of 15 studies ran throughout 2004 to 2012 in seven countries. These studies examined the brain activity of 330 participants ages 18 to 59 who looked at paintings while inside MRI scanners. Those who took part in the testing had been instructed to make aesthetic judgments about the paintings in two-thirds of the studies; in the other studies, participants were free to look at the paintings however they liked.
The science shows that looking at art actually triggers certain parts of our visual cortex, which processes visual information. Scientists also attribute this brain activity to when humans process shapes and color. Also activated during the studies were the fusiform gyrus and parahippocampal gyrus, areas of the brain linked to perception and recognition of familiar objects and places. Another area of the human brain called the anterior temporal lobe was also activated; it's the part of the brain that breaks down information and makes meaning out of objects, which suggests "viewing paintings may trigger higher-order mental processing," researchers said.
Head over to the National Center for Biotechnology Information to read the full report.