GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) - Looking at art and appreciating its beauty and creativity is one of the most fundamental functions our brains were designed to do.
In fact, for nearly 40,000 years humans have had a desire to express themselves through art and it is that same part of the brain that created these cave paintings that we use today to create and appreciate art.
"As art comes up through the brain it comes up as a stimulus through these nerves that we have, it's going to connect to our memory systems which is going to connect to our hippocampus then eventually once we get through all these layers in the brain itself and understood." Dr. Michael Wolff is a neuropsychologist with the Grand Rapids based BRAINS.
He says he's not surprised by the entries that made it into the ArtPrize Top Ten, "Some of them involved movement like the ones with the butterflies and the hanging and they light up and there is sound and movement to it and it illuminates many of the senses. There's definitely a connection to most of those pieces they either have a direct color, a touch, a sense of light to them."
The first area of the brain to react is the nucleus accumbens, or the pleasure center, then it moves to the orbital frontal cortex where you decide if you like they art before moving on to the memory area where you try to related to the art based on your life experience.
"I think that the connection with a lot of these artists from the top 25 and the top 10 were able to bring in both senses with illuminate the brain with a sense of connection to the world." Wolff says that stimulation helps to increase in the production of dopamine, "Dopamine is one of those chemicals that works in the brain to provide a sense of pleasure and that sense of fitting in and that positive mood state."
Dr. Wolff ads that those who are have a talent for creating art have a more highly developed right side of the brain where creativity thrives. But we all have an ability to appreciate and decide what makes art beautiful to us.