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Viewing Art Gives the Same Pleasure as Being in Love

  • 2 min read

We’ve thought it for years - looking at art, owning art and being surrounded by artwork just makes you feel great inside. Now it’s official: Some London-based boffins have realised (and scientifically proven to boot) that art triggers the same neurological pleasure as being in love.

According to a few super-smart bods based in London town, the same part of the brain that is excited when we fall for someone romantically is stimulated when you stare at artworks of beauty.

To use the phrase ‘beauty’ is tricky as it is widely acknowledged by most that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is the case with humans and it’s certainly the case with art, but when it looks good and ticks all the boxes the fires within are ignited in us all.

Apparently when we view art, the act of doing so triggers a surge of the feel-good chemical, dopamine, into the orbito-frontal cortex of the brain, resulting in feelings of intense pleasure.

Dopamine and the orbito-frontal cortex are both known to be involved in desire and affection and in invoking pleasurable feelings in the brain. It is a powerful affect often associated with romantic love and illicit drug taking.

In a series of pioneering brain-mapping experiments, they scanned the brains of volunteers as they looked at 28 pictures. The study found that blood flow increased in areas of the brain usually associated with romantic love.

The study will be published in full later this year, but the research suggests that art could be used to increase the welfare and mental health of the general public and, importantly, has been recommended should be protected from budget cutbacks.

 

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