New Study Suggests Artists’ Brains Are More Fully Developed

Photo: courtesy of the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at UCLA and Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at MGH.
Photo: courtesy of the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at UCLA and Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at MGH.

According to a recent study, artists may have increased neural matter in areas of the brain that are linked to fine motor skills and visual imagery. As reported by the BBC, the findings of “Drawing on the right side of the brain: A voxel-based morphometry analysis of observational drawing” suggests that artistic talent is innate, although training can certainly have an effect.

Rebecca Chamberlain, who helped author the report for NeuroImage, claims that “The people who are better at drawing really seem to have more developed structures in regions of the brain that control for fine motor performance and what we call procedural memory.”

The brains of 21 art students were compared to 23 non-artists through the voxel-based morphometry scanning method. The artist group had a larger mass of gray matter in the parietal lobe’s precuneus area. According to Chamberlain, “this region is involved in a range of functions but potentially in things that could be linked to creativity, like visual imagery—being able to manipulate visual images in your brain, combine them and deconstruct them.”

This isn’t the first brain scan study that claims to have drawn conclusions about art and artists. According to the Smithsonian, different parts of the brain light up depending on whether a person finds an artwork beautiful or ugly. In both cases, while far from conclusive, the results are intriguing.


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