“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life," so Pablo Picasso once famously proclaimed. His belief in art's transcendent
qualities might not be too far from the scientific mark.
New cognitive research out of Germany suggests that "the production of visual art improves effective interaction” between parts of the brain. The study, conducted on a small population of newly retired individuals concludes that making art could delay or even negate age-related decline of certain brain functions.
Essentially, if art isn't washing away the dust accumulating on your soul, it might be cleaning up your brain instead.
Psychological studies have revealed that positive mood can spur creativity. The idea is that positive mood awards us with greater flexibility in thinking because our perspectives are widened. We become more open-minded in that sense and are willing to explore alternatives.
Knowing such findings, incorporating fun into the work through team-bonding activities or retreats can be a crucial element in injecting creativity in the workplace.
In a study entititled, "How Art Changes Your Brain: Differential Effects of Visual Art Production and Cognitive Art Evaluation on Functional Brain Connectivity," researches gathered together 14 men and 14 women and randomly engaged half of them in a hands-on art class and the other half in an art appreciation course.
Those enrolled in the hands-on art workshop attended one weekly, two-hour class in which they learned painting and drawing techniques and produced their own original art. Those enrolled in the appreciation course learned from an art historian how to analyze paintings and took part in group critiques.
The study lasted for a period of 10 weeks, in which scientists at the University Hospital Erlangen tested the participants twice – once before classes began and once at the end –- using fMRI technology and a scale meant to measure emotional resilience.
After comparing the before-and-after tests, the team led by neurologists Anne Bolwerk and Christian Maihofner observed “a significant improvement in psychological resilience" as well increased levels of "functional connectivity" in the brain amongst participants of the visual art production group. The art-appreciation group fared worse on both.