Doodling is good for your brain, says latest research
Have you caught yourself doodling in a meeting or in a lecture? According to a new study from Drexel University, Philadelphia, you might be calling out to your inner artist. Based on the small study, researchers conclude that unstructured doodling and art increases the blood flow to the prefrontal cortex which is directly connected to the brain’s reward system. This is the same feeling one gets whilst dancing, laughing, or eating a chocolate bar.
Published in the journal The Arts in Psychotherapy, the study led by Girija Kaimal, EdD, used fNIRS (functional near-infrared spectroscopy) to observe, document, and study the blood flow in the brain when participants doodled. From the sample size of twenty six, some participants were self-described artists and some did not consider themselves artistic at all. The study used three types of drawings—free drawing on a blank sheet of paper, doodling on a pre-drawn circle, and coloring in a mandala. Each activity went on for three minutes with breaks in between.
The results clearly showed an increase in blood flow while participants indulged in doodling as opposed to their rest periods. Kaimal concludes that this is because of the inherent pleasure in making art. An interesting observation was that the participants who identified themselves as artists had less blood flow during the coloring activity. There was also quantifiable evidence to suggest that free drawing led to the most amount of increased blood flow. Participants took surveys before and after the art-making activities, and it was established that they felt more creatively inclined after drawing, were able to solve problems easily, and had better ideas.
The study proves that doodling has the potential for evoking positive emotions. Since doodling is a judgment-free activity, it can be used as a therapeutic tool for anyone regardless of their skill level in the activity. Additionally, researchers are also studying its potential to address addictive behaviors such as eating disorders.
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