Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Release of creativity by frontotemporal dementia

An article by Sandra Blakeslee describes FTD, or frontotemporal dementia, through which some patients have become gifted in landscape design, piano playing, painting and other creative arts as their disease progressed. The composer Ravel composed “Bolero” in 1928, when he was 53 and began showing signs of this illness with spelling errors in musical scores and letters. The structure and repetition of this musical piece is mirrored by the graphic shown here, an image of a migraine by Anne Adams,a bench scientist with FTD who became drawn to structure and repetition. Enhanced artistic abilities arise when frontal brain areas decline and posterior regions take over. Injury or disintegration of dominant inhibitory frontal cricuits appears to release or disinhibit activity in other areas. The result of compromising one part of the brain can be to induce other parts to remodel and become stronger.

1 comment:

  1. This is a fascinating 'symptom' of FTD. I saw a BBC documentary many years ago in which a case was presented of a verger with Pick's disease who developped a surprising creativity. Like I remember it, probably somewhat exaggerated, before his FTD he was rather perfectionistic and rigid.
    Interesting in this aspect was the theory of Lhermitte(1986) who described the parietal lobe as a source of creative activity that was in some kind of balance with the inhibitory function of the prefrontal lobe.

    By the way: I enjoy reading your posts a lot! Your choice of topics very close to my field of work, unfortunately I don't play the piano.