How does art help our brain and mental health?

Como a arte ajuda o nosso cérebro e saúde mental?

How does art help the brain?

Managing to maintain mental wellbeing has been a challenge during the recent challenges of the pandemic. World Mental Health Day is celebrated this Sunday, October 10th. This date raises several questions: how does art help the brain? During the coronavirus, many people have turned to the artistic world, as a form of creative outlet or an opportunity for expression. Currently, we have enough evidence to support prioritizing the arts in our home lives as well as in education systems. Discover in this article how art has been helping Humans in terms of mental health.

Ability to manage mental well-being

The relationship between the arts and mental health is intensely established in the field of art therapy. This medium applies techniques based on painting, dance and theater to intervene in mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. There is also other evidence that art can be used in non-therapeutic contexts to promote mental health. Theater and visual arts are examples of practices that can be applied to develop the ability to manage mental and emotional well-being.


Salvador Dalí | P55 Magazine | P55 - The Art Platform

Salvador Dalí



With recent advances in the areas of biological, cognitive and neurological sciences, there are new forms of evidence on how art affects the brain. For example, researchers have used biofeedback to study the effects of visual art on neural and neuroendocrine circuits, finding biological evidence that visual art promotes health, well-being, and adaptive responses to stress. stress. In another study, cognitive neuroscientists found that creating art reduces cortisol (stress) levels and induces more positive mental states. These studies are part of a new field of research called neuroaesthetics: the scientific study of the neurobiological bases of the arts. Neuroesthetics uses brain imaging, brainwave technology and biofeedback to gather scientific evidence of how humans respond to art. Thus, there is physical and scientific evidence that art engages the mind in new ways, infusing healthy emotions that make us feel good.


Art was considered an effective tool to help maintain concentration. Specifically, engaging in visual arts has been found to activate different parts of the brain beyond those overloaded by logical and linear thinking; and another study found that visual art activates distinct and specific visual areas of the brain. Thus, the conditions for mindfulness are created, involving different parts of the brain through the conscious change of mental states. Neuroaesthetic findings suggest that this is not an experience unique to artists: it is simply unexplored by those without artistic backgrounds.Research shows that Art can be used to create a unique cognitive shift in a holistic state of mind called flow. These studies have identified that the relationship between art, flow and mental health leads to mindfulness, creativity and even enhanced cognition.


René Magritte | P55 Magazine | P55 - The Art Platform

René Magritte

benefits in education

Currently, published studies on the benefits of art in education have increased, referring to increased academic performance and the development of innovative thinking. However, this area continues to be marginalized in education. Will the data obtained in studies of neuroaesthetics be sufficient for there to be a prioritization of the arts in education?If that's the case, we may be close to providing the right tools to help young people with mental health crises.

Three activity tips

Make mistakes: Try something new and be willing to make mistakes in order to learn. Most artists practice for years before they are able to reproduce something realistically, and they are willing to make a lot of mistakes along the way, as the brain rewards learning.

Reuse and repeat: try making pieces with reusable materials that you already have at home or products that can be molded several times, such as plasticine. This way there is no pressure to make something that looks good. If you really need to keep a copy, you can always take a quick photo of your work.

Language limit: Try not to speak when producing your creations. If you're listening to music, choose something without lyrics. Give it some time and calmly surrender.

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