In the past year alone, there has been a plethora of studies conducted to examine the effect of art on the human brain. So far, all of the neurological research points to the fact that you can't really go wrong with art. Whether it's making art or attending exhibitions, art and people are made for one another. For instance, it turns out our brains are actually designed to enjoy art and those who practice art have more developed brains than people who don't. That's why a recent study, which found that making art actually keeps our brains healthy, comes as no surprise.
Scientists at the University Hospital Erlangen conducted a study on recently retired men and women from Germany. The researchers had 14 men and women, all between the ages of 62 and 70, enroll in hands-on art course, while another group of 14 took a simple art appreciation class. The two classes lasted for a period of over 10 weeks. Before the experimentation began, the participants all took a test that measured their "emotional resilience." They also had their brains scanned.
A series of tests and more scans were done at the end of the testing period, with the results published in academic journal PLOS ONE. According to the scientists' findings, there was “a significant improvement in psychological resilience” among those who enrolled in the drawing and painting classes, one not evident in the art-appreciation lot, but is this obvious? It's no secret self-expression can give people a release, provide them with strength, and subsequently make them more "psychologically resilient."
A more fascinating outcome, scans of the art-class group also revealed better "effective interaction" between an area of the brain associated with cognitive functions like introspection, self-monitoring, and memory. This same area of the brain actually becomes less active with age, so it's also possible art could slow down, reverse, or even stop the decay.