Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Creating a visual spa...
This is a very interesting video that Cathy Malchiodi shared on International Art Therapy Organization's facebook page. It explains why looking at what we believe is beautiful is good for us. Semir Zeki, professor of neurobiology at University College London (UCL), is a pioneer in the field of neuroaesthetics. He is also founder of the Institute of Neuroaesthetics, co-located at UCL and in Berkeley, California. Professor Zeki’s research into the brain’s visual system shows that when we look at something we consider to be beautiful, the feel good parts of the brain are being activated and dopamine is released.
Zeki’s research included a neuroimaging study designed to investigate the neural correlates of beauty. Ten participants were shown 300 paintings and asked to classify each of them as beautiful, ugly, or neutral. (Not all agreed that a particular painting was either ugly or beautiful.) The participants were then shown the paintings again using fMRI. “Beautiful” paintings elicited increased activity in the orbito-frontal cortex — involved in emotion and reward — while “ugly” paintings stimulated increased motor cortex activity, as if the brain was preparing to escape.
Want to test it out for yourself? You can read about a very clever on-line way to release dopamine in your own brain, just using your computer. Go to Gretchen Miller's post on the Pinterest website and read about our latest little addiction. Gretchen and I have been busy "pinning" images that we like; interesting quotes, beautiful architecture, inspiring landscapes, lovely colors, interesting textures, all sorts of things that stimulate the one third of our neocortex devoted to visual activity. (And I can tell you dopamine is involved!) A mini vacation for the eyes. I've visited many new-to-me blogs and flickr accounts and am learning just how many of us artist folks are actually out there in the world. If you ever felt alone in your love of art, this website will teach you that you are so very not alone.
Create a visual spa for yourself to visit at any time, and if you keep adding to your collection and looking at others' collections, then it's always fresh and new. Lovely! Amazing!