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Brain and Mental Performance

Creative Skills Can Develop With Dementia

21 years, 8 months ago

10077  0
Posted on Sep 25, 2002, 2 p.m. By Bill Freeman

Dr. Bruce L. Miller and colleagues at the University of California at San Francisco and Los Angeles report that specific musical and visual skills can be enhanced in some patients with dementia. The researchers studied twelve patients with dementia traced to the brain's left temporal lobe, who developed or maintained musical or artistic ability.

Dr. Bruce L. Miller and colleagues at the University of California at San Francisco and Los Angeles report that specific musical and visual skills can be enhanced in some patients with dementia. The researchers studied twelve patients with dementia traced to the brain's left temporal lobe, who developed or maintained musical or artistic ability. The temporal lobe functions in aspects of memory, learning and expression. It is part of the largest region of the brain, the cerebrum, made up of the two hemispheres of the brain. According to the results of the study, it seems that people who had demonstrated exceptional visual and musical abilities before the onset of their dementing diseases maintained their creativity even as difficulties with other skills began to manifest themselves. Of the 12 patients, seven developed new skills (five visual and two musical) in the setting of dementia, while five maintained visual and/or musical abilities -- despite progression of dementia. The researchers point out that verbal skills played no part in these retained abilities, and suggest that the processes involved in recall of previously learned information or images can continue without the mediation of language. More importantly, the researchers explain that, while creativity continues, the quality of the creativity is different since it lacks an abstracting or symbolic component, resulting in realistic expression.

SOURCE/REFERENCE: British Journal of Psychiatry 2000;176:458-463

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