Sunday, May 15, 2016

Week 8 Neuroscience and Art

Being the only biological field of study that requires the inspection of intangible concepts like emotion, behavior, perception, and consciousness, neuroscience is closely linked to the study of art, creativity, and expression. Scientifically, the existence of consciousness and thought can be explained by the firing of millions of neurons connected through intricate pathways in specific portions of the brain. However, the study of the brain and consciousness is still somewhat of a mystery to the medical world and the mere firing of neurons and release of neurotransmitters onto the post-synaptic receptors of cells can not, and may never, be able to quantifiably describe how humans experience life and consciousness.
I believe that this is where art comes in. While phrenology and psychoanalysis have both been scientifically disproved, they offer artistically meaningful insight and explanations on the human experience and personality. Carl Jung's theory of archetypes, universal character- types that can be used to define the personalities and perceptions of humans, attempt to provide a scientific basis to the seemingly unscientific existence of personality. Although Jung is not considered an artist, artists act in a similar way by producing art that inexplicably captures different aspects of the human experience, with the purpose to not only express themselves but also relate to others. 
On another note, there have been recent studies that show a correlative link between mental disorders and artists. Praised for their remarkable creativity, intelligence, and talent, a significant number of the most famous artists in history had mental disorders. Described as abnormalities in behavior and perception, mental disorder's link to creativity provide scientific and neurological basis to the intangible concepts of creativity and, thus, further add to the correlation between the study of art and neuroscience. For example, the most famous composer of all time, Beethoven suffered from severe depression and bipolar disorder. Starry Night, Van Gogh's most famous painting, was painted during his manic period and Munch's most famous painting, The Scream, was inspired by the artists turbulent experience with depression, anxiety, and hysteria. 

Works Cited
"The 12 Common Archetypes." The 12 Common Archetypes. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2016. <>. 

Berman, Ali. "8 Artists Who Suffered from Mental Illness." MNN. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2016. <>. 

Lodish, Harvey. Overview of Neuron Structure and Function. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 16 May 2016. <>.

  Vesna, Victoria. “Conscious / Memory (Part 1).” Lecture. 16 Nov 2012. <>

 Vesna, Victoria. Lecture. “Conscious / Memory (Part 2).” 16 Nov 2012. <>

Photo sources

1 comment:

  1. I liked how you talked about how many prominent artists had some form of mental illness, which likely sparked their creativity that a "healthy" mind otherwise would not have been able to come up with. I really enjoyed reading your blog this week!