Lenore Tawney Heart Collage, Detail

In honor of Valentine’s Day, this news note (thanks to Gyöngy Laky). Brain mapping by Semir Zeki, Professor of Neurobiology and Neuroesthetics at University College in London, UK, suggests that viewing art creates the same chemical response — a surge of dopamine — that romantic love does. “We have recently found that when we look at things we consider to be beautiful, there is increased activity in the pleasure reward centers of the brain,” said Zeki.  In his experiment, Zeki showed volunteers 28 works of art including The Birth of Venus,  by Sandro Botticelli, Bathing at La Grenouilliere by Claude Monet and Salisbury’s Cathedral by Constable.  In the UK, The Telegraph reported on Zeki’s study, writing that this research suggests that art could be used to increase the welfare and mental health of the general public and should be protected from budget cutbacks. The research also offers an interesting affirmation of previous studies which have shown shown that art can reduce suffering in hospital and lead to speedier recoveries from ill health. For a video report by TheArtFundUK, see YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_5twGr9l_0.