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Friday, April 16, 1999 Published at 08:29 GMT 09:29 UK


Artists' brain power

Scientists say artists like Van Gogh use their brains differently

New research has shown that the brains of artists work differently to those of other people.

Science Correspondent Pallab Ghosh: "Artists paint what they feel rather than what they see"
Scientists say that when artists are painting they use the front of the brain more, whereas non-artists use the rear.

They will present the results of their research on brain activity at an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in central London.

[ image: Scans showed how different people used their brains]
Scans showed how different people used their brains
The findings are being revealed after researchers scanned the brain of one of Britain's leading painters, Humphrey Ocean.

They asked Mr Ocean to sketch while inside the brain scanner, and compared the results with scans of non-artists doing the same thing.

The scans revealed the regions of the brain that were most active during the creative process.

Dr John Tchalenko: "We wanted to see what part of the brain was activated while painting"
Scientists found that non-artists tended to use the rear of the brain more. This region is associated with taking in and processing visual information.

But Mr Ocean used the front of his brain more, the region associated with complex thinking and emotions.

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