“When the arts become a regular practice- the way you might improve nutrition, increase exercise, and prioritize sleep - you unleash an innate tool that helps you navigate the peaks and valleys of your inner life. And the best news is that you don’t have to be great, or even good, at making art to experience the benefits.”

Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transforms Us, by Susan Magsamen and Ivy Ross

I have been following Susan Magsamen’s work at the International Arts + Mind Lab at Johns Hopkins for years and was so excited when I found out that she was writing a book with Ivy Ross, the Vice President of Design for Hardware at Google. While I am used to reading studies and articles on topic of neuroscience and creativity that are overly data driven and dry, what makes this book so compelling accessible and engaging nature of the language the authors use.

Magsamen and Ross expertly make the highly complex/academic world of neuroscience feel tangible and understandable (which is so helpful for me and all the other non-science people), and demonstrate through deeply compelling and fascinating evidence how transformative experiences with art can be:

“In the same way you might exercise to lower cholesterol and increase serotonin in the brain, just twenty minutes of doodling or humming can provide immediate support for your physical and mental state. In fact, so many studies have shown the swift physiological benefits to our health from the arts and aesthetics that we debated calling this book Twenty Minutes on Art.”

I underlined and annotated almost every single page of this book, and feel so indebted to the work of these two powerhouse researchers and practitioners. I cannot recommend this book more highly!