The “art part” of the brain is different…

May 19th, 2007

In his biweekly online newsletter, The Painters Keys, artist Robert Genn made some interesting points about the relationship between art and the aging brain. Here’s an excerpt. For more you can go to the link at the bottom of this post.

Creativity and the onset of dementia have recently prompted a
great deal of study and speculation. Dr. Luis Fornazzari of the
Memory Clinic at the Division of Neurology, St. Michael’s
Hospital, University of Toronto, in a paper published on
Tuesday, stated, “Art should be understood as a cognitive
function with its own neural networks.” His findings include
the discovery that painters, musicians and writers who develop
brain disorders may continue to be competent in their art for
some time after losing other faculties. Our main brain, it
seems, is vulnerable to attack just as a computer hard drive is
to viruses, while our art brain is like an outboard memory
card–somewhat protected or at least delayed in its potential

The main characteristic of all artists seems to be that skills,
techniques and methodologies need to be well learned or
self-taught. In other words, ingrained skills persist and can
be the last to go.

All this is based on new understandings of Brain Reserve
Capacity–neuroscientists call it “BRC.” The building of extra
capacity, which largely happens in the early and middle years,
is a clear catalyst to a longer, more contributive, and more
fulfilling life. Many researchers such as Konrad Mauer and
Bruce Miller are now suggesting that there is a “tremendous
potential for preservation of brain functions induced by the
visual arts.” That being said, other effective methods that
build BRC are education, occupational attainment, bilingualism,
physical activity, proper diet, absence of addictive drugs
including alcohol and tobacco, and social networking.

By Robert Genn,

2 Responses to “The “art part” of the brain is different…”

  1. Wow,thank you for sharing .Such a wonderful post.

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