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Learning Art Alters the Brain

A recently published scientific paper validates the anecdotal evidence that artbreak™ participants have been telling us (and showing us) for years: Doing art makes us better able to do art. But the research, based on brain scans of university students enrolled in art classes, goes further: it establishes that creating art changes the way the brain is organized. Here is how writer Tom Jacobs summarizes the findings: "Creativity is another concept that is often thought of as something we are either born with or will never have," says Dartmouth College psychologist Alexander Schlegel, lead author of a paper published in the journal NeuroImage. "Our data clearly refute this notion." Schlegel and his colleagues report that taking an introductory class in painting or drawing literally alters students' brains. What's more, these training-induced changes didn't only improve the fine motor control needed for sophisticated sketching; they also boosted the students' creative thinking. "Their study featured 35 college undergraduates, 17 of whom took a three-month introductory course in observational drawing or painting. All underwent monthly brain scans using fMRI technology. The art students specifically increased "their ability to think divergently, model systems and processes, and use imagery," the researchers write. The results suggests that, in a matter of a few months, "prefrontal white matter reorganizes as (art students) become more able to think creatively." The full article can be seen here.