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You Don’t Have to Be an Artist to Make Art

Harvard Medical School reminds everyone that it’s the process not the product that matters, so don’t worry if your artwork doesn’t look like it belongs in a museum. More good news: while the rest of your body is aging, your creative abilities do not deteriorate.

Neurological research shows that making art can improve cognitive functions by producing both new neural pathways and thicker, stronger dendrites. Thus, art enhances cognitive reserve, helping the brain actively compensate for pathology by using more efficient brain networks or alternative brain strategies. Making art or even viewing art causes the brain to continue to reshape, adapt, and restructure, thus expanding the potential to increase brain reserve capacity.

Christianne Strang, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, promises that if you stick with it, you’ll enjoy it. In her 30-year career as an art therapist, she has found that “99% of the time, people find that if they give up the idea that they’re not good enough, if they give up the judgment, making art actually feels good.”


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