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Brain Plasticity & Art Therapy

Art - Creativity - Drawing - Painting

Enhancing Brain Plasticity with Art

Article: Art & Creativity Healing

Brain Plasticity - Art & Creativity Healing

... therapy strategies include learning to draw or paint

..... by Dieter Luske N.D.-D.C.H.-D.M.H.-D.H
Holistic Therapy Consultant - Gold Coast - Canungra

Author of It happened in the seventies ... and ...

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Art - Creativity & Healing

The concept of Art for therapy has been long established, and has been further enhanced by the concept of Brain Plasticity.

Lets reflect on what Brain Plasticity means:

The brain’s structure changes as a consequence to stimuli, such as accidents, strokes, illness and other activities. MRI's and other imaging data show that with proper rehabilitation, the injured brain rewires and recovers its function.

Rehabilitation treatment is once again achieved by focused "stimuli", this time it is a therapeutic type of stimuli .....

.... and ... Art - Creativity and it's activities are such stimuli.

Why Art is therapeutic:

Art effectively delivers intense stimuli to the brain to various brain areas to expand brain plasticity, and if used for treatment, it will take over neural connections formerly inhibited by chronic pain centres or similar negative brain areas.

Art is beneficial simultaneously in 5 ways:

  1. Art uses creativity, visualisation and intuition, all right brain activities, as part of the artistic ongoing process. Often, this is a vital part of therapy to re-claim positive brain plasticity aspects.

  2. Right brain activities are balanced with left brain activities such as; thinking, reasoning and developing an art project.

  3. Further more, the activity of learning, plus ongoing learning, is another accepted benefit for brain plasticity, and once again, that learning, and the new pathways and neurons created, can have a beneficial effect of competing positively with negative aspect of brain plasticity.

  4. Relaxation and meditation is another natural state and benefit archived while creating art, and in addition, it creates a state free of time constrains.

  5. And finally, Art is a well establish method to change the brain wave frequencies, and artistic pursuits are at their best if the artist's mind has slipped into an "Alpha Brain Wave" state.

Lets have a closer look at each benefit and how to achieve it.

Art is often considered as a "Recreation Activity", and I do like this description, it is suited well for writing about the art's therapeutic effects. With art and therapy in mind, my preferred way of spelling "recreation" is therefore; "Re-Creation", and I relate this mostly to Brain Plasticity, where with an art activity you "re-create" your brain, and therefore yourself with art, "such a nice way of re-creation".

Learning to draw or paint is surprisingly effective for a number of possible problems. The effect is subtle at first, but can be life changing.

Art and the concept of Brain Change

Art combines free artistic expression with the potential for significant therapeutic intervention.

Art and art therapy modifies the brain’s physiology and structure and leads to a more flexible, adaptable individual, as demonstrated by scientific methods.

Obviously, you don't have to have a problem to start embracing Art.
As we have learnt about Brain Plasticity, to learn a new activity is of great benefit for the brain, and just by learning something new the brain plasticity will change itself.

To learn Art combines 2 important brain concepts:

  1. First, the actual Art fact and skill learning, is a "left brain activity" like any other learning activity, and learning, thinking and evaluating all go hand in hand, and even better, that learning never will stop.
    Learning about art and doing art is like opening Pandora's box, it is absolutely endless, only limited by your own mind.

  2. Second, Art is creative in nature, you are creating something, you are visualising something, and often you are guided by your intuition, after that you pull it all together and see "the big picture"; all in fact, "right brain activities".

Your brain plasticity is having a ball, Art is not just a boring activity, it is encompassing life itself. Without Art and Creativity we would be still sitting in caves.

The biggest stumbling blog for learning Art is usually in your own mind, it is the limiting believe of: "I can't draw, or I am not creative".

Actually, we are creative by nature, and we all can draw.

If you can write your name, you can draw, it's a learnt activity, and yes, it may take a bit time, depending how intense you go about it.

Most adult artist beginners, when asked to draw a common object, will draw something resembling a child's drawing, because they draw from a picture in their mind of what they think they see, instead of what they are really seeing. This new learned ability to actually be able to draw what you see, is an eye and mind opening experience.

You will be able to see and draw: negative and positive space, different tonalities, shades and shapes, as well as apply correct perspective, and you will learn to use your drawing tools.

As we know by now, everyone can learn to draw, and it is recommended to anyone who wants to expand brain plasticity. It works for prevention, or specifically to overcome a problem, where a strong stimuli is needed for the brain to form new brain pathways.
Obviously, you can learn to draw just for the fun of it.

Treating body and mind problems with Art, gives us a truly creative option for achieving brain change; stimulating the brain to process information from external (drawing) and internal (visualizing) sourced stimuli, will develop new efficient brain connections.

The Benefits of Art:

Art and art activities are an relaxing even a meditative state.

When you are sick and have to rest, you automatically will drift into an Alpha brainwave state of mind, which helps to regenerate the body and mind. 

What we do with using art, is using above knowledge and combine it with techniques to bring about this state of regeneration, which goes hand and hand with: relaxation, better circulation, stronger immunity, more energy and so on....

Research shows that physiological functions; such as heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration, slow down when people are deeply involved in an activity they enjoy. (The alpha state of the brain)

In addition, making art also provides an opportunity for someone to exercise their eyes and hands, improving eye-hand coordination, and stimulate neurological pathways from the brain to the hands.

Confidence: The act of creating art has intrinsic benefits. By promoting feelings of achievement, the creation process automatically boosts self-esteem and self-confidence. Stress reduction is also a significant benefit.

Patients recovering from trauma or serious injury often find art therapy particularly beneficial, as do people with chronic illnesses, such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease. Other problem areas are; depression, anxiety, coordination, or vision problems.

Music and Art go hand in hand, peaceful alpha background music often adds to the atmosphere and can enhance the art therapy, as well as helping to switch into the Alpha state and right brain activity.

What are you waiting for .... expand your mind and brain plasticity, learn something new, learn to become an artist, learn to draw and paint.

.. not quiet ready yet, like to try something easy first, like colouring in a drawing template? Yes, that too has similar effects, not quiet as involved as creating your own drawings, but a good start, and very relaxing.

If you have any problems that can be attempted to be treated with brain plasticity and the visualisation concepts, why not start colouring in some Visualisation Picture Drawing Templates? ... colouring in therapy template ...

To take this one step further, esp if you start to enjoy the art and drawing, join an Art Class ... or an Adult Colouring In Class

... the next article is on: Tinnitus - therapy concept discussion


... or go back to the main Brain Plasticity Menu

Please contact me directly for more info or Research Participation: Dieter L. - Editor


* Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.

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