Your Brain on Art
How the Arts Transform Us
by Susan Magsamen; Ivy Ross
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Pub Date 21 Mar 2023 | Archive Date 21 Jun 2023
Random House Publishing Group - Random House, Random House
“This book blew my mind!”—Angela Duckworth, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Grit
A BLOOMBERG BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR • Finalist for the Inc. Non-Obvious Book Award and the Porchlight Business Book Award
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 to 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.
“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
“This book blew my mind! An authoritative yet practical guide to the neuroarts—a term that, if you haven't heard it before, is even more reason to join these brilliant co-authors 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: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
“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
"Neuroscientists know that our experiences sculpt our brains leading to new connections. 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. Your Brain on Art makes the case for neuroaesthetics at a time when all of us can benefit from what art can do not only for our souls but our brains.”
— Thomas Insel, former director of the National Institute of Mental Health and author of Healing: Our Path from Mental Illness to Mental Health
“This book brilliantly puts a new science to the experience of viewing and making art, and shows us how to use art to transform our daily lives. Your Brain on Art will change how you think about the creative world - both around you and within you.”
—Charles Duhigg, author of bestsellers The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better
"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
"This wonderful book demonstrates that art is essential for health, healing, community and bliss. Indeed, art both defines us and allows us to transcend our own small selves. Since the beginning of time, our species created art and art created us. The authors describe the new field of neuroaesthetics that measures how art changes the brain and other systems in the body. Your Brain on Art is well-researched and well-written. I couldn't put it down. I recommend it to all."
—Mary Pipher, author of Women Rowing North and A Life in Light
“The neuroscience of beauty, of witnessing or creating music, art, dance is an untapped doorway to healing the brain, to changing the very structure and function of our brains and minds. 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 and The UltraMind Solution
"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
“Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross, through extensive interviews and research, have created something beautiful and affirming with their book Your Brain on Art. 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
“In their captivating book, Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross have assembled something remarkable: a scientific framework for understanding how art affects us. 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
“From young children to adults with Alzheimer’s, the arts can improve and even extend our lives. This fascinating account of the science behind this phenomenon will inspire readers to establish their own concrete plans to incorporate as much art into their lives as possible. Regularly engaging with the arts can make you live longer, and this absorbing book explains how.”
— Kirkus Reviews