Can Art Improve Cognition?

Being interested in art and music has many more positive sides than many people would believe. Something that intrigues me is the idea that art, music and performing arts could improve cognitive functioning. Could engaging in visual arts or music have an effect on cognition?


The answer is yes! There are many benefits of art for the brain and cognition. The arts can influence many cognitive processes. An extensive amount of research has been done by several scientists teaming together, and there is a lot of evidence to support the idea that art and music really effectively help improve cognitive abilities such as learning, attention, motivation and intelligence. The first finding was that performance in art leads to higher motivation in individuals and in turn produces sustained attention. This higher motivation and attention can lead to better performance in school. These qualities in kids were found to lead to better performance on intelligence test scores. Another finding was that high levels of music training lead to a vast improvement in working memory and long-term memory and an ability to manipulate the information in each domain.

Another finding of the scientist’s studies was that practicing music could lead to greater skills in geometrical representation, greater reading skills, and sequence learning. It has also been found that early music training leads to earlier ability to read and greater phonological awareness or speech production and perception. Training in acting was found to lead to better memory, specifically improvement of semantic memory.


Other studies have found that there was a significant improvement in psychological resilience as well as increased levels of functional connectivity in the brain amongst people who participated in the visual arts. Also mentioned was that making art could even delay or reverse age related decline of many brain functions.

Art can help improve so many cognitive skills such as reading, math, critical thinking, memory and attention. So why are schools not as focused on art education as we are in other fields? According to all this research, it would be incredibly beneficial for schools to keep art and music at the forefront of education along with all the other important subjects that we learn in school like English and math, since art can help you with other domains of school. Finally, art can even improve mental and emotional health.


Art has been found to decrease negative emotions and help reduce stress, anxiety and depression. This is the reason art therapy can be so useful to people struggling with mental health issues. Doing art helps reduce so many of the negative symptoms associated with mental illness.

So, as we can see from overwhelming evidence from many studies, participating in arts- whichever one you enjoy most: visual arts, performing arts, or music is highly beneficial for the brain, cognition and health in general. So whichever art form is your favorite, make sure to continue with it because it has so many positive effects on many aspects of your life!


3 thoughts on “Can Art Improve Cognition?

  1. rguenthe

    This is article is really intriguing! This helps explain why maybe some parents push there kids to take piano lessons or play some type of instrument. I know at my elementary school some of the requirements was to take an art class and a music class. I really did enjoy though. Art is very calming and it must take your brain a lot to interpret some of the different kinds of art there is. This also helps explain why listening to classical music while you study may help you concentrate better.

  2. cbudd33

    This is really interesting! The fact that the brain can develop and grow just by being introduced to different sensations (and thus, perceptions) is amazing. I’ve taken many science courses, so I am always thinking biologically. The more sensations your brain encounters, the more action potentials are generated, which essentially sends sparks throughout your whole body so you can experience and learn! It’s no wonder that being introduced to so many different experiences, such as art and music therapy, that conditions like depression can be cured. The body is always eager to learn new things and adapt to whatever comes it’s way!

  3. valvarez

    Personally I have always thought art and musically performance was always a good thing. It helps us engage with different types of material in different aspects. It allows us to explore outside of our structured box of reading and writing. Don’t get me wrong, writing is a great way to express yourself when you have the words but sometimes when looking at artwork its an automatic feeling that long-term memory can recall. I know that anytime I see finger paintings of kids, I think back to my days in kindergarten and drawing trees. I also know that when you play an instrument that it helps your overall brain develop, especially the cerebellum. It’s because of you are reading, listening, feeling and overall engaged with material in more ways than one that stimulates your brain, enhancing growth. Personally, I would like to see a study done with band students and academic success and if there is a significant interaction but that’s just a thought.

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