Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Did you know... art helps you live longer and healthier?

Did you know that looking at art on a regular basis affects your brain more than you know? Not only does it just affect the way you think and feel in the moment, but scientific studies have actually proven that art can make your brain healthier and even promote a longer life span!

In a study where human guinea pigs were hooked up to a brain scanner and shown 30 different works by world-renowned artists, they found that when the viewer looked at a piece of art that they really enjoyed, blood flow increased to the brain by 10 percent (the same as looking at a loved one!)

The test was carried out by selecting dozens of people who were chosen at random but were picked because they had no prior art knowledge. In this way, they would not be influenced by current trends, the popularity of the artist, and other people's tastes. The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measured blood flow in the medial orbitofrontal cortex -- the part of the brain associated with desire and pleasure.

The increase in blood flow was directly related to how much the viewer enjoyed the piece. When they were shown works that the viewer thought was ugly, often times either little or no blood flow increased to the brain. Even though it may seem obvious that looking at something beautiful will make you feel good, the scientific study proved that it affects our brain even more than we previously thought.

This study helps us to realize and define even more clearly that art is not just a luxury, as so many seem to think. Hanging a piece of art on your wall that you love does more than just make you feel good every day (as if that benefit wasn't enough!) If it can cause increased blood flow to your brain that helps you to think more clearly and have healthier cognitive function, then it can also improve your overall health.

Not only then do we want to spend extra time carefully selecting art that beautifies our home and work spaces, but it becomes increasingly important to provide beautiful art in places where it is imperative to our health -- hospitals, dentists, doctor's offices, chiropractors, wellness centers, spas, the list goes on and on. Finding someone who can bring in art that will positively affect the people who will be viewing that art is of the utmost importance.

A soothing image might help an anxious dental patient while they are having a cavity filled. A calm and peaceful work of art can effectively help someone waiting in an emergency room who is worried about a loved one. Or even something as simple as a relaxing painting can help someone who is usually stressed to find relaxation at a massage center.

Art is not just something that you hang on a wall to make a room a little prettier. It is in fact a necessity to our everyday life and cognitive health. This is why budget cuts that slash out creative and art programs in schools can be so detrimental to the health of our children -- often times much more so than we think. Even something as simple as placing the right art in your children's bedroom can make a difference. Consider letting your child tell you what makes them feel good and what they want to have around them on a regular basis. Something that makes them comfortable and happy can help them sleep better, think better, be more creative, and even study more effectively.

Take the time to select the right images for your interior design projects. And if you don't know what to choose, then bring in an expert. OC Designer Source has been studying how interior design and art affects environments for many years and can use our expertise to optimize any interior for any purpose -- we specialize in art installations for commercial, hospitality, and residential interiors.

2 comments:

Sarah Bush said...

Great article. I hate that we have to justify the importance of art, but our culture is very ambivalent about the value of art. I love your suggestions for how people might approach it if they don't know much about art. Thanks!

Going to Goa Blog said...

Could not agree more! My spouse has lived more than double his terminal prognosis and has used that time to create over 200 watercolor paintings...see http://www.arttoartpalettejournal.com/2013/06/road-to-goa/ for an article written about him and the connection between art and healing. We are in Goa, India on a "trip of a lifetime" which you can see on our blog Going To Goa at wordpress.