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Douglas Pressman

Douglas Pressman

Doing art keeps the brain young - CBS News

A friend of mine retired from a university professorship about two years ago. He had been paid well for decades, waited until he was in his 70s to give up teaching, had invested astutely in real estate and stocks all along, and he is as a result worth many millions. Nowadays, he evidently spends a lot of time at home, alone, watching television, and worrying about whether he retired too early. In short, though the did a great job in cultivating his financial portfolio, he failed to similarly develop hobbies and interests along the way. Now he feels bored and lost. His situation came to mind when my mother forwarded me a link to a CBS News story, covering recently announced research results in a neurology medical journal, that documents how creative hobbies – specifically artistic pursuits – stave off dementia during the aging process. Over the years, quite a number of artbreak™ participants have enlisted with us in anticipation of retirement. They are like my retired professor friend, except that they have decided to try their hands at our arts immersion workshops to see whether they cannot stir up a habit that will last them in years to come. The happy fact is, this seems to happen, more often than not. Doing art keeps the brain young

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.
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  • Thank you one and all for a GREAT week in Prague. I’ve had my ceramics glazed and fired and they look great. My children really loved the clay animation. 

    Sue S.
    Engineer and Homemaker, Doha, Quatar
  • Of course I will sing your praises!! How could I not?? It was an absolutely wonderful week!

    Fran G.
    Attorney, New York City, New York, USA
  • My wife and I haven’t had such a fun adventure in years. We never could have experienced Prague culture like this on our own. It was an unforgettably stimulating and at the same time relaxing trip for us. Bravo!

    Thomas R.
    Architect, Toronto, Canada
  • Here is what stands out for me: overcoming insecurity about making art in front of strangers; making art in companionship with people who are now on the same adventure.

    Maryly S.
    Artist and retired Librarian, Berkeley, California, USA
  • Memories of Artbreak are still very much with me. Thank you both for a lifetime experience. You were gracious hosts and your care and planning were much appreciated.

    Susan H.
    Princeton, New Jersey, USA
  • The perfect balance of the travelers’ opposites – discovery on your own and a peek into the insiders’ world. I would NEVER have found this on my own.

    Maryly S.
    Artist and retired Librarian, Berkeley, California, USA
  • In retrospect, I am glad that we had a day before and after the scheduled events, to acclimate to the city before, and after, to pursue things we hadn't had an opportunity to get to.

    Manuel J.
    Financial Analyst, Salamanca, Spain
  • I'm thrilled I went – Artbreak expanded my horizons and re-energized me creatively by providing a totally unique, personalized, deeply engaging experience that I'll never forget.

    Jeff F.
    Marketing Consultant, Boston, Massachusetts USA
  • Of all the vacations I have taken that included art this was by far the best! Anytime you want to use me as a reference, feel free.

    Sandra M.
    Governmental Affairs Consultant, San Francisco, California, USA
  • The trip was wonderful and I have so many wonderful memories and I appreciate all that you did for Judy and I. I have traveled a lot and this trip ranks high on my enjoyment scale.

    Janice S.
    RN, MS, New York City, USA
  • Of course the city itself is a wonder; but I doubt if I would have come to love it so if not for the experience you and Doug have so carefully, thoroughly and lovingly crafted.

    Mary Ann F.
    Chiropractor, Palo Alto, California, USA


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