Seeing beautiful works of art is like being in love
The artworks they considered most beautiful increased blood flow in a certain part of the brain by as much as 10 per cent – the equivalent to gazing at a loved one.
What we found is when you look at art – whether it is a landscape, a still life, an abstract or a portrait – there is strong activity in that part of the brain related to pleasure.
"We put people in a scanner and showed them a series of paintings every ten seconds. We then measured the change in blood flow in one part of the brain.
"The reaction was immediate. What we found was the increase in blood flow was in proportion to how much the painting was liked.
“The blood flow increased for a beautiful painting just as it increases when you look at somebody you love. It tells us art induces a feel good sensation direct to the brain.”
The test was carried out on dozens of people, who were picked at random but who had little prior knowledge of art and therefore would not be unduly influenced by current tastes and the fashionability of the artist.
The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan measured blood flow in the medial orbitofrontal cortex, part of the brain associated with pleasure and desire.
Good art makes people happy - as happy as being in love, now we have science to back it up.