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Cogn Behav Neurol. 2007 Mar;20(1):48-61.

A case-controlled study of altered visual art production in Alzheimer's and FTLD.

Author information

  • 1University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA. krankin@memory.ucsf.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To characterize dementia-induced changes in visual art production.

BACKGROUND:

Although case studies show altered visual artistic production in some patients with neurodegenerative disease, no case-controlled studies have quantified this phenomenon across groups of patients.

METHOD:

Forty-nine subjects [18 Alzheimer disease, 9 frontotemporal dementia (FTD), 9 semantic dementia (SD), 15 healthy older controls (NC)] underwent formal neuropsychologic testing of visuospatial, perceptual, and creative functioning, and produced 4 drawings. Subjective elements of drawings were rated by an expert panel that was blind to diagnosis.

RESULTS:

Despite equal performance on standard visuospatial tests, dementia groups produced distinct patterns of artistic features that were significantly different from NCs. FTDs used more disordered composition and less active mark-making (P<0.05). Both FTDs and SDs drawings were rated as more bizarre and demonstrated more facial distortion than NCs (P<0.05). Also, SDs drastically failed a standardized test of divergent creativity. Alzheimer disease artwork was more similar to controls than to FTDs or SDs, but showed a more muted color palette (P<0.05) and trends toward including fewer details, less ordered compositions, and occasional facial distortion.

CONCLUSIONS:

These group differences in artistic style likely resulted from disease-specific focal neurodegeneration, and elucidate the contributions of particular brain regions to the production of visual art.

PMID:
17356345
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2651227
Free PMC Article

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