A mind-blowing exploration of what happens in our brains and bodies when we interact with art, and how an understanding of these processes can help us dramatically improve our mental health, communities, and ourselves
Have you ever gotten chills while listening to a particularly gorgeous piece of music? Or felt a sense of calm while gazing at a painting of a serene landscape? We have experiences like those every day, but rarely stop to consider what's happening internally to cause them.
In Your Brain on Art, founder of the International Arts + Mind Lab at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Susan Magsamen and Google designer Ivy Ross explain how, by understanding how we biologically react to aesthetic experiences, we can not only heal as individuals but thrive as communities. Using the new science of neuroaesthetics, which explores our physiological reactions to art, Magsamen and Ross show us how, for instance, gardening can help a person heal from trauma or listening to a major fifth interval can snap the body out of a fight-or-flight response.
Beyond enjoyment and abstraction, art can change the way we operate on a daily, practical level. And, in addition to helping each of us heal from stress, anxiety, burnout, and other malaises of modern life, neuroaesthetics can effect major change in society writ large, whether through public art murals in high-crime areas or music and dance therapy for patients experiencing neurodegenerative disorders.
Both a journey of discovery and an authoritative guide to the new science of aesthetics, Your Brain on Art is a vibrant tapestry weaving together breakthrough research, insights from multidisciplinary pioneers, and compelling stories from people who are using the arts to enhance physical and mental well-being.