Drawing Intervention Yields Promising Changes in the Brain
According to Lora Likova, PhD, of the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco, drawing is “an amazing process that requires precise orchestration of multiple brain mechanisms, perceptual processing, memory, precise motor planning and motor control, spatial transformations, emotions, and other diverse cognitive functions.” Wait ‘til you see the brief video of what her research subjects were able to do after what she called “Cognitive-Kinesthetic training”—and they were either blindfolded or congenitally blind!
Below: interventive sensory information processing can lead to the organization and integration of brain structures and functions, resulting in drawings of recognizable objects—even if an individual can’t see.
Dr. Likova’s experiments point to the potential of art-based intervention for engaging specific brain structures and functions and harnessing these to facilitate improvement. Practitioners who utilize the Expressive Therapies Continuum for assessment and treatment will recognize Likova’s focus on the Sensory component of the ETC as the primary agent of change in her studies. The article that summarizes Likova’s work in plain English, “Visualizing Art” by science writer Carl Sherman, also addresses research on creativity that suggests the creative process is an integrative, two-step dance between executive functioning and limbic functioning. Again, the Expressive Therapies Continuum comes to mind…
Art therapy and the use of art in therapy are getting that much closer to being blessed by the scientific community thanks to research that corroborates the observations of art therapy pioneers; it emphasizes a person’s internal responses during her/his art process rather than a person’s external responses to her/his art product. Don’t take my word for it—check out “Visualizing Art” for yourself and begin to visualize a health care climate in which art therapists and their kindred spirits are welcome as mainstream contributors to society’s optimum physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being. It’ll take a little more time and effort for the fields of art therapy and neuroesthetics to dovetail, but we’ll be just as ready to serve then as we are right now.
With appreciation for the important work you do,
Megan March 2014
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