Studying art can help students make up to 38 per cent more accurate observations, according to recent research.

Dr. Khoshbin, who had a background in art analysis himself before taking a medical degree, said art classes seem to help train students in what he calls “visual literacy.”

“Quite often, when students miss a diagnosis, they tell us they didn’t look,” Dr. Khoshbin said. “You can look at a face and observe certain aspects of it, like lines on a face, the colour of it, the colour of the eyelids, the colour of the lips — these are all things once you are trained to look for it, you do better at it,” Khoshbin said.

Even modern art can help students improve their powers of observation. “Not only how to look at body and face but to look at patterns. The work of Jackson Pollock has no face and no body, so what is important is pattern recognition,” he said.

Pattern recognition teaches students to observe more about, for example, a rash, than just the colour of the skin.

“They have to be able to look at the human being, they have to be able to pick up cues that are not necessarily communicated verbally. So much is not communicated verbally,” Khoshbin said. And the side effect is a group of doctors who have a heightened appreciation of visual art, some of them becoming lifelong fans.

CBC; excerpts.