A new study at the Drexel University in Philadelphia, USA says that artistic pursuit, doodling in particular, gladdens the brain. “When you doodle the reward pathway in your brain get super active,” says Girija Kaimal who led the investigation. “This leads to a feeling of pleasure.” And you do not have to be a Rembrandt to experience such art-induced delight. “The level of your artistic skill is not particularly important,” says the study, “so long as you are able to doodle anything.”
The latest study substantiates previous findings that revealed a clear link between art and psychological well-being. A report widely published last year, for example, illustrated how drawing for just 45 minutes helps in reducing stress. Indeed, the belief that art-making can help fight stress set off a boom in adult-colouring books in 2015 globally.
Kaimal says that the pleasure resulting from even simple artistic activity like doodling may because of how it affects the activity of the brain. “It sends blood gushing into the prefrontal cortex,” says the study, which involved 26 healthy adults aged between 18 and 70 years.
The study participants engaged in colouring, doodling, or free drawing in 3-minute sessions punctuated by rest periods. Their brain activity was studied during these sessions using an advanced imaging technology called functional near-infrared spectroscopy. The results proved that all three art-making tasks boosted blood flow to the brain’s prefrontal cortex. In the breaks between sessions blood flow returned to normal. The prefrontal cortex is part of the brain’s reward pathway.’ It is also involved in regulating emotions.
Kaimal believes that their findings suggest that if you’re looking to boost your mood, a quick doodle could do wonders.