Saturday, October 11, 2008

Art = Painkiller

As it turns out, art can serve as a kind of painkiller. According to a study carried out by the University of Bali, people report feeling less pain when viewing art they considered beautiful.

Looking at a beautiful piece of art has long been said to have the power to heal emotional wounds but the new research also claims it offers a distraction from physical pain.

The research….could help vindicate hospitals who are accused of wasting money on art and decor as it suggests a pleasant environment helps patients overcome discomfort and pain.
The article goes on to say:

They were then asked to contemplate either the beautiful paintings, or the ugly painting, or a blank panel while the team zapped a short laser pulse at their hand, creating a sensation as if they had been pricked by a pin. The subjects rated the pain as being a third less intense while they were viewing the beautiful paintings, compared with when contemplating the ugly paintings or the blank panel.

Electrodes measuring the brain's electrical activity also confirmed a reduced response to the pain when the subject looked at beautiful paintings.

This is all very interesting; not just because it enhances the importance to art, but also its implications on how the brain processes information in various circumstances (not to mention the relationship between the mind and the brain.)

Aesthetics is an interesting field; why the human brain is so affected by it remains one of the most mysterious questions science has yet to completely answer.

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