Art and its Impact on the Human Mind


October 29, 2012

Many different forms of art have been shown to have profound effects on the human mind. Alzheimer's patients, for example, are often involved in music therapy, which has shown to help them recover and reconnect with past memories. Even if only momentarily, the memories they experience have shown to increase positive moods and improve their quality of life.

Most forms of art are able to impact the human mind in one way or another, even if it may be negative. What is most important is to explore the impact art has on the human mind and figure out how to positively harness the impact and minimize any negativity.

Pop art, for example, impacts different people in different ways. With its strong ties to commercial consumerism and found art, it is easy to evoke emotion in someone when utilizing the properties of Pop art.

Nostalgic Undertones
Emotions and feelings surrounding past events can be easily conjured up through the study of Pop art. Pop art is specifically tied to nostalgic thoughts since many of these works utilize old comics, food wrappers, advertisements and other types of found art that people may recognize from past events in their lives. Many of the most famous pieces in the Pop art movement have utilized popular advertisements that could be easily tied to past memories.

Utilizing Pop art to delve into past memories can be very therapeutic for many different reasons. For example, if someone is dealing with a childhood trauma, memories from childhood can help them figure out exactly what happened and how to move past it. Through art pieces that they can associate with their past, the memories will come more freely since they are not elicited by direct objects, but indirect thought instead.

Clearly art therapy can work in regards to bringing back past memories. Pop art is not the only type of art that can be used to help stimulate areas of the brain and help in the process of resolving issues.

The Brain Feels Rewarded
According to a 2010 study conducted by researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine, viewing paintings as opposed to photographs of similar objects evoked more of a sense of reward within the brain. Participants in the study were shown pieces from different artists such as Van Gogh and Picasso, and then they were showed photographs that depicted very similar objects. When they studied the brains of the participants through imaging technology, the ventrial striatum, which is part of the reward system, became more strongly activated when the participant saw a painting rather then a photograph of a similar object.

This area of the brain is typically tied to different types of addiction, especially gambling. With the power of art being able to affect the reward system in such a powerful way, it begs the question as to whether certain types of art may be able to help stimulate the brain in a way that helps with addictive behavior.

Benefits to Underprivileged Children
Art therapy has also been used to awaken the senses of underprivileged children through both the viewing and creating of art. According to research compiled and analyzed by Christina Pili, the experiences that disadvantaged children are often exposed to can create deep issues in regards to their motor, social and cognitive abilities. With these types of issues many children begin to develop nervousness, anxiety, sleeping excessive or too little, and a lack of verbal, social and language skills. Music, dance, painting and other forms of art have shown to have an incredibly significant and positive effect on children who come from disadvantaged homes and have been exhibiting delayed behaviors in these areas.

By awakening the senses through experimentation with the different types of art these children are experiencing, they are able to see increased abilities in their cognitive, motor and social skills. These are invaluable skills that are important to their overall quality of life.

The Many Colors of Pop Art
Returning one last time to the power of Pop art on the human mind, some studies show that different colors are able to tap into various emotions within different people. Pop art is known very well for its use of bright, vibrant colors. Bright yellows often evoke a feeling of happiness, which is a very common color in Pop art pieces. Depending on the color within the piece, different emotions can be displayed by the observer.

Clearly different aspects of art and the participation in the arts can have a profound and positive effect on the human mind. Pop art is especial useful in helping evoke past memories and gain insight through the use of bright colors. Art is a beautiful thing to be enjoyed, and knowing the powers it can have on the human mind is certainly an added bonus.



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