A life-altering journey through the science of neuroaesthetics, which offers proof for how our brains and bodies transform when we participate in the arts—and how this knowledge can improve our health, enable us to flourish, and build stronger communities.
“This book blew my mind!”—Angela Duckworth, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Grit
Many of us think of the arts as entertainment—a luxury of some kind. In Your Brain on Art, authors Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross show how activities from painting and dancing to expressive writing, architecture, and more are essential to our lives.
We’re on the verge of a cultural shift in which the arts can deliver potent, accessible, and proven solutions for the well-being of everyone. Magsamen and Ross offer compelling research that shows how engaging in an art project for as little as forty-five minutes reduces the stress hormone cortisol, no matter your skill level, and just one art experience per month can extend your life by ten years. They expand our understanding of how playing music builds cognitive skills and enhances learning; the vibrations of a tuning fork create sound waves to counteract stress; virtual reality can provide cutting-edge therapeutic benefit; and interactive exhibits dissolve the boundaries between art and viewers, engaging all of our senses and strengthening memory. Doctors have even been prescribing museum visits to address loneliness, dementia, and many other physical and mental health concerns. Your Brain on Art is a portal into this new understanding about how the arts and aesthetics can help us transform traditional medicine, build healthier communities, and mend an aching planet.
Featuring conversations with artists such as David Byrne, Renée Fleming, and evolutionary biologist E. O. Wilson, Your Brain On Art is an authoritative guide neuroaesthetics. The book weaves a tapestry of breakthrough research, insights from multidisciplinary pioneers, and compelling stories from people who are using the arts to enhance their lives.
About the Author
Susan Magsamen is the founder and director of the International Arts + Mind Lab, Center for Applied Neuroaesthetics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where she is a faculty member. She is also the co-director of the NeuroArts Blueprint. Susan works with both the public and private sectors using arts and culture evidence-based approaches in areas including health, child development, education, workforce innovation, rehabilitation, and social equity.
Ivy Ross is the Vice President of Design for hardware product area at Google, where she leads a team that has won over 225 design awards. She is a National Endowment for Arts grant recipient and was ninth on Fast Company’s list of the one hundred Most Creative People in Business in 2019. Ross believes that the intersection of arts and sciences is where the most engaging and creative ideas are found.
“This book blew my mind! An authoritative yet practical guide to neuroarts—a term that, if you haven’t heard it before, is even more reason to join these brilliant coauthors on a romp through the latest science on how art transforms the brain and the body.”—Angela Duckworth, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Grit
“Your Brain on Art will change how you think about the creative world, both around you and within you.”—Charles Duhigg, author of the bestsellers The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better
“This wonderful book demonstrates that art is essential for health, healing, community, and bliss. Your Brain on Art is well researched and well written. I couldn’t put it down.”—Mary Pipher, author of Women Rowing North and A Life in Light
“Your Brain on Art explores the new science of neuroaesthetics, a way of reimagining how to live that includes art as an essential part of the human experience and an unexpected doorway to healing.”—Mark Hyman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Young Forever
“A groundbreaking book on the science behind humanity, joy, and creativity. ‘Art’ is the word we use for the magic that makes us better.”—Seth Godin, New York Times bestselling author of This Is Marketing
“In this wonderful new book, Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross show us how the experience of art helps to build connections and pathways for mental health.”—Thomas Insel, former director of the National Institute of Mental Health and author of Healing
“Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross, through extensive interviews and research, have created something beautiful and affirming with their book. Its pages provide proof for what so many of us have always known, that art, especially art in community, is transformative beyond measure.”—David Byrne, founding member of The Talking Heads and author of How Music Works
“For anyone who has been transfixed by a painting, or moved to tears by a piece of music, this book provides a fascinating tour of what goes on in the brain when we encounter art’s transformative power.”—Annie Murphy Paul, author of The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain
“Art is often dismissed as a nice-to-have, but this important book shows that it is an absolute necessity for a life well-lived. Everyone should read this book. In it, you’ll learn how to reclaim your creativity, heal your body, soothe your spirit, and transform your community.”—Ingrid Fetell Lee, author of Joyful and founder of The Aesthetics of Joy
“This mind-bending book can help shape richer lives and a newer world. It’s the best description yet of the indivisibility of art, the natural world, and our neurological health.”—Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle and Last Child in the Woods
“An extraordinary and important book. Magsamen and Ross put us back in touch with one of the defining features of being human—art—and remind us of how and why it is important in all we do.”—Daniel Levitin, New York Times bestselling author of This Is Your Brain on Music
“Your Brain on Art masterfully demonstrates the power of all artistic expression, from visual to musical, on brain health. This book shows us that a beautiful painting or haunting melody is not just entertainment, but bountiful nourishment for your brain, mind and soul.”—Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, New York Times bestselling author of Super Brain, Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School
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