The mind of an artist, it seems, is no figure of speech: The brains of skilled visual artists are actually physically different from others, a study based on brain scans suggests. "The people who are better at drawing really seem to have more developed structures in regions of the brain that control for fine motor performance and what we call procedural memory," lead author Rebecca Chamberlain tells the BBC. Scanning the brains of 21 art students and 23 others as they completed drawing tasks, researchers found artists had more gray matter in multiple areas of the brain, Medical Daily reports.
One of those areas was the precuneus—an area "that could be linked to creativity, like visual imagery—being able to manipulate visual images in your brain, combine them, and deconstruct them," Chamberlain says. Other affected parts of the brain are related to visual imagery and fine motor control, Dangerous Minds reports. The study offers some support to the idea that talent could be inborn, but training could also play a big role, researchers say. The findings didn't focus on one side of the brain or the other, notes an outside expert, which could "put to rest" the idea of artists being right-brained. (Another fascinating recent study on brains and the arts found that some people literally can't enjoy music.)