Neuroaesthetics: The Intersection of Art and Brain Science

In the late 1990s, Semir Zeki, a neuroscientist in London coined the term “Neuroaesthetics” to define his research regarding the intersection of art and brain science. Neuroaesthetics is a rapidly growing body of science and art that offers a new perspective on well being, managing anxiety, stress and many other conditions. 

I had not heard of this particular field of study until I recently read Our Brain on Art by: Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross. However, I quickly realized this correlates with many of Elderhealth’s core philosophies in caring for our patients. The constructs of neuroaesthetics are centered around the way our brain takes in information using sensory input and how sensory input is vital to nurture the brain and body. 

Modalities in Neuroaesthetics

There are a variety of modalities in neuroaesthetics. One of my personal favorites is color. 

Color therapy is based on the ways in which the visible color spectrum improves a person’s mood. Color transmits at different frequencies and vibrations. Therefore, color can be used to shift the energy and frequencies within our body. Incorporating color therapy with sensory rich experiences can be an added benefit when caring for someone with dementia.

  • Violet has the shortest frequency of all colors, while red has the longest. 
  • Research studies have shown that the frequency of blues and greens in mild hues help calm people in a work setting, reducing stress and promoting creativity. Just simply coloring with a certain color can change a person’s mood! 

Coloring: Not Just for Kids

The act of coloring itself has a comparable brain effect as doing mediation. Simply coloring for 20 minutes per day can leave a person feeling content and calmer. The structure of coloring can bring a sense of order to a chaotic situation.  Coloring creates a positive state of mind, leading to more focused attention to the present moment. This has been shown to alleviate acute anxiety states. Can you imagine? No need to use that Xanax just grab a coloring book! A coloring study done in the ED instructed patients waiting in the waiting room to color while they wait. Results demonstrated lower heart rates and patients themselves reported less anxiety. 

So if your loved one is feeling anxious, grab a coloring book! Or paint your room green or blue! 

Color Tips for Dementia Patients

Black – Black mats in front of doors can help deter wandering because often it is viewed as a black hole.

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