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Transform your brain with this 1-minute art book review.

Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us – by Susan Magsamen & Ivy Ross

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The notion of art therapy is popularly considered a little wishy-washy. As it turns out, however, there are thousands of studies showing its effectiveness.

Nor is this just a matter of self-expression. As authors Magsamen and Ross explore, different kinds of engagement with art can convey different benefits.

That’s one of the greatest strengths of this book: “this form of engagement with art will give these benefits, according to these studies”

With benefits ranging from reducing stress and anxiety, to overcoming psychological trauma or physical pain, there’s a lot to be said for art!

And because the book covers many kinds of art, if you can’t imagine yourself taking paintbrush to canvas, that’s fine too. We learn of the very specific cognitive benefits of coloring in mandalas (yes, really), of sculpting something terrible in clay, or even just of repainting the kitchen, and more. Each thing has its set of benefits.

The book’s main goal is to encourage the reader to cultivate what the authors call an aesthetic mindset, which involves four key attributes:

  • a high level of curiosity
  • a love of playful, open-ended exploration
  • a keen sensory awareness
  • a drive to engage in creative activities

And, that latter? It’s as a maker and/or a beholder. We learn about what we can gain just by engaging with art that someone else made, too.

Bottom line: come for the evidence-based cognitive benefits; stay for the childlike wonder of the universe. If you already love art, or have thought it’s just “not for you”, then this book is for you.

Click here to check out Your Brain On Art, and open up whole new worlds of experience!

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