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How does our brain react to different paintings? – Brain waves visualized while viewing art objects

How does our brain react to different paintings?  – Brain waves visualized while viewing art objects

During a pilot project at the exhibition in London, visitors wore headphones connected to an electroencephalogram (EEG) monitor. An immediate visualization of their brainwave data was then displayed on a screen in the center of the room, operated by an expert. This way, those interested can take a look at what the individual artworks evoked in them.

A visitor wearing headphones looks at a painting by Van Gogh at the Courtauld Gallery in London. Source: UK Arts Fund/Haider Diwachi

The technology works via a small wireless headset whose sensors press onto the wearer’s forehead and wrap behind the ear, writes Artnet’s Joe Lawson Tancred, who recently tested the device.

The figures on the screen are simplified 3D visualizations, the goal of which is to make the raw data understandable and readable even for those without a background in neuroscience. After the EEG headphones collect data, the system isolates a specific frequency of brain wave activity called the beta band. “There are other frequencies that relate more to subconscious thought, but beta waves relate to conscious thought,” said Will MacNeil, creative director of design agency The Mill, which created the visualization with Chinese artist Sif Li.

The images displayed on the screen reflect the viewer’s experience. For example, when users were particularly alert, the bars on the screen became wider. If they try to understand something confusing, the ribbons begin to twist and tangle. When they saw something familiar to them, lighter golden threads appeared on the screen.

Brain waves on screen, Van Gogh in the background. Source: UK Arts Fund/Haider Diwachi

Neuroscientist Dr. Ahmed Bey from Rutgers University also participated in the experiment. He explained that the light wireless EEG headphones used in exhibitions are far from the methods used in laboratory scientific analysis. However, their ability to record data in real time is “a great way to bridge the gap between the scientific and artistic worlds and see how art affects the brain.”

“One of Beh’s main areas of research is how our brain perceives beauty. “We know that when a person sees something they find beautiful, such as a face or an abstract art painting, the pleasure centers in their brain light up and the visual sensory center lights up. “I have become more intense. I will participate,” he said in his statement. “Studies show this is linked to the release of dopamine, also known as the feel-good neurotransmitter.”

Art activates the same reward and pleasure centers that some depression treatments target, Bey tells Sky News. Although more research is needed, he says looking at art may have long-term health benefits.

The project was initiated by the Art Fund, a UK-based charity that aims to encourage museum visits. The group’s research found that while 95% of UK adults agree that visiting museums and galleries is beneficial, 40% visit them less than once a year, the organization said in a statement. Furthermore, one in six people surveyed said that art had no effect on them. The organization hopes that presenting brainwave statements will provide a fun and interactive way to illustrate how art affects people’s minds and emotions, helping to attract new audiences.

“With this experience, we are trying to show how great the museum experience is and we want to encourage people to come back.” – said Jenny Waldman, Director of the Art Fund.

The new headphones will be available in selected museums across the UK next year.

Source: Artnet, Smithsonian Magazine

Cover image: A visitor wearing headphones looks at a painting by Van Gogh at the Courtauld Gallery in London

Cover image credit: Source: UK Arts Trust/Haider Diwachi

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