Viewing artworks generates in the brain the same reactions of being in love

Constable's artwork "Salisbury Catedral"
Constable’s artwork “Salisbury Catedral”

Professor Semir Zeki, a neurobiologist at the University College London, showed that our brain reacts in a similar way whether we are in love and when we are looking at beautiful artwork. The research focused upon the analysis of the excitation of specific human’s brain area, discovering that in those two different situations the same parts are activated. This is just one on the many evidences of how useful art could be inside therapies to fight serious diseases like depression.

In the study were highlighted real chemical elements, well-know for their involvement in desire and intense pleasure contexts, for example dopamine inside orbito-frontal cortex of the brain. Substances often related to romantic love and drugs abuse.

Professor Semi Zeki analysed cerebral reaction of some volunteers while they was watching 28 different pictures. They included The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, Bathing at La Grenouillere by Claude Monet and Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral. Like Zeki says:

There have been very significant new advances in our understanding of what happens in our brains when we look at works of art. We have recently found that when we look at things we consider to be beautiful, there is increased activity in the pleasure reward centres of the brain. There is a great deal of dopamine in this area, also known as the ‘feel-good’ transmitter. Essentially, the feel-good centres are stimulated, similar to the states of love and desire. The reaction was immediate.

Matteo Nunner

Graduated in Literature at the University of Eastern Piedmont, he's now studying anthropological and ethnological science at the University of Milano-Bicocca. Journalist and writer, he collaborated with many local newspapers and in the 2015 he published his first book "Qui non arriva la pioggia". In the 2017 published "Il peccato armeno, ovvero la binarietà del male".

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