Your Brain on Art, Writing, and Music
Here are some recent stories about what goes on in the brain when we’re writing, making music, and appreciating art. (Originally posted on Farther to Go!)
Click on the titles to read the complete articles.
Ann Lukits (The Wall Street Journal)
Analysis suggests art appreciation is a natural biological process.
“Viewing paintings engages a number of different regions of the brain, suggesting art appreciation is a natural biological process, according to the report in the June issue of the journal Brain and Cognition. The study found that paintings activated areas of the brain involved in vision, pleasure, memory, recognition and emotions, in addition to systems that underlie the conscious processing of new information to give it meaning.”
Carl Zimmer (The New York Times)
Becoming skilled at writing may activate the same areas of the brain that are activated in people who are skilled at other things, such as sports or music. This study showed that the areas of the brain activated in novice writers were not the same as those activated in the skilled, “professionally trained,” writers.
“During brainstorming, the novice writers activated their visual centers. By contrast, the brains of expert writers showed more activity in regions involved in speech.”
It would appear that training is training is training—no matter what the training is for.
Jeremy Dean (PsyBlog)
“Both the brains and behaviour of adult and child musicians were compared with non-musicians in the study by researchers at the Boston Children’s Hospital. They found that adult musicians compared to non-musicians showed enhanced performance on measures of cognitive flexibility, working memory, and verbal fluency. And musically trained children showed enhanced performance on measures of verbal fluency and processing speed.”
Daniel A. Yudkin and Yaacov Trope (Scientific American)
Different music encourages different frames of mind.
“Tiny, almost immeasurable features in a piece of music have the power to elicit deeply personal and specific patterns of thought and emotion in human listeners….Ponderous, resonant, unfamiliar tonalities—the proverbial “auditory forest”—cause people to construe things abstractly. By contrast, the rapid, consonant, familiar chords of the perfect fifth—the “auditory trees”—bring out the concrete mindset….That music can move us is no surprise; it’s the point of the art form, after all. What’s new here is the manner in which the researchers have quantified in fine-grained detail the cognitive ramifications of unpacked melodic compounds.”