Biological markers

The arts also have been shown to affect biological markers of the endocrine and immune systems. For example, music has been shown to affect stress hormones including cortisol and adrenaline, sex hormones involved in stress response, including testosterone and progesterone, a range of different white blood cells, inflammatory proteins, and neuropeptides involved in social bonding and pain response.(59) Similarly, dance has been shown to affect levels of the neuropeptides serotonin and dopamine over several weeks of involvement and reduce blood glucose levels,(60,61) while writing therapy has been shown to reduce stress hormones.(62)

PsychoCognition and development

It is not just physiological aspects of health and illness that are affected by the arts; they also have profound psychological effects. For example, the arts have been shown to have an impact on cognition, including temporal and spatial abilities, language, and memory.(63,64) In healthy individuals, such as infants and young children, this has been shown to lead to improvements in learning and social development.(65) But the arts also have been shown to support cognition in people with neurological conditions such as those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.(66) And they have been shown to be a source of valuable psychological support for people with neurological conditions and neurodevelopmental disorders. For example, art and music therapy have been found to support development, behavioural adjustment, and emotional regulation in children with autism, and poetry therapy has been found to support grief and empowerment following acquired brain injury, among other examples.(67-69)

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