Drawing stimulates brain activity and creativity, says study

Many people considered creative practice artistic activities or small hobbies just for their own benefit. They want to have ideas, open their minds and make new connections. And they are not at all wrong, according to science. A new study by Drexel University and released at Fast Company shows that the artistic creation process (even the simplest one) stimulates the area of ​​the brain linked to the so-called reward system – the same area that makes dancing, laughing and eating chocolate, for example, is so good.


To test the impact of performing artistic activities on the brain, Girija Kaimal, a professor at the College of Nursing and Health Professions at Drexel University, located in Philadelphia (USA), used ultrasound scanners to observe how blood flow in the brain changes when people make doodles or simple drawings. For the test, 26 people placed an electromagnetic device on the head that measured blood flow using contrasts of lights. The tests were carried out in the following situations: when the person colored a drawing in a geometric shape, he would scribble a paper forming a circle and draw whatever came to mind. Some participants defined themselves as professional artists, while others did not. Each activity lasted three minutes, with breaks.

The results, published in The Arts in Psychotherapy, show that activities increased oxygen flow to the prefrontal cortex area – linked to the brain reward system – when participants were “creating art” compared to times when they did not They were. The increase was very similar to what happens when someone smiles, dances or eats a chocolate (attitudes that can also stimulate the brain’s reward system). This system, moreover, has the function of promoting and stimulating behaviors that contribute to the maintenance of life, such as food, protection and sex – and, when activated, it can provide feelings of pleasure and satisfaction.

The researchers in this study, however, point out that there are differences in each type of “art”. Scribbling a paper increases the flow more intensely, while coloring less intensely. But the difference is subtle, not so significant. A curious factor is that the participants who defined themselves as artists had less increase in the flow directed to the reward system during the tests than people who did not identify themselves as such.

The benefit of these specific gears is not restricted to increased oxygenated blood flow to the brain reward system. The researchers point out that the participants felt more creative moments before and shortly after performing the artistic activities. They believed they were having better ideas and could solve problems in a more practical way.

“Our research indicates that there is an inherent potential to evoke positive emotions through the process of making art, particularly with doodles. Doodling is something that everyone has done in their lifetime, a skill that everyone is able to have and develop Yes, it should be seen as a pleasant activity, without judgments “, says Kaimal to the scientific publication at the University of Drexel. In other words: the study brought evidence that this type of art, very simple and easily accessible, can be an effective therapy for anyone – regardless of sophistication or talent for drawing.