The Surprising Ways Art Changes Our Brains And Bodies

‘Your Brain On Art’ examines new research about the effectiveness of art in healthcare and the benefits of picking up a daily arts practice.

a trippy piece of artwork featuring a multicolored brain that seems to be exploding with multicolor blasts of ink
Credit: Shutterstock

Listen to Universe of Art on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PodcastsStitcherTuneIn or your favorite podcasting app. You can read this episode’s transcript here.

We might intrinsically know that engaging with and making art is good for us in some way. But now, scientists have much more evidence to support this, thanks in part to a relatively new field called neuroaesthetics, which studies the effects that artistic experiences have on the brain. 

A new book called Your Brain On Art: How The Arts Transform Us, dives into that research, and it turns out the benefits of the arts go far beyond elevating everyday life; they’re now being used as part of healthcare treatments to address conditions like dementia and trauma. 

Universe of Art host D. Peterschmidt sits down with the authors of the book, Susan Magsamen, executive director of the International Arts + Mind Lab at the Pederson Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University, and Ivy Ross, vice president of design for hardware products at Google, about what we can learn from neuroaesthetic studies, the benefits of a daily arts practice, and the kinds of art they both like making.

Read an excerpt from Your Brain On Art.

Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the theme music. Charles Bergquist and John Dankosky provided production assistance. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. Support for Science Friday’s science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. 

Do you have an idea for a future episode of Universe of Art? Send us an email or a voice memo to

Meet the Writer

About D. Peterschmidt

D. Peterschmidt is a producer, host of the podcast Universe of Art, and composes music for Science Friday’s podcasts. Their D&D character is a clumsy bard named Chip Chap Chopman.

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