Number 59 in our countdown of '70 Ways Art Improves Our Health' highlights how our brain benefits from visual art…

Creating art is a wonderful way to stimulate our brain. But it is far from the only way we can benefit from art.

Recent studies in the field of neuroscience have used advanced technologies to shed some light on what happens in our brain when we are looking at art created by someone else.

A 2014 study looked at research from neuroscientists who had scanned the brains of people looking at paintings. The study found that viewing paintings triggered areas of the brain connected to visual understanding (no shock there) but it also showed that viewing artworks led to brain activity associated with emotions, pleasure and reward, and learning.

'Life Under Water 4', '...5' and '...6' by Quentin Blake at Peterborough City Hospital. Part of the Paintings in Hospitals collection.

Studies have also shown how looking at art can even make us ‘smarter’. In 2013, a study of 11,000 students found that they had stronger critical thinking skills after they had visited an art museum than before the visit.

While other research has highlighted how art encourages our brain to grow new connections and pathways, even making us more resilient to stress.

Find out more about Paintings in Hospitals art loans here.

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