STUDY: Alzheimer's disease can unlock creative abilities

THEY say that as you grow older your creativity declines but new research into a disease that's associated with older age has revealed this not to be the case.

Alzheimer's is a disease that robs people of their memories, but a new study shows the onset of the disease can also be the beginning of a newfound creative skill.

The Huffington Post reported that researchers at Neuroscience Research Australia found some people with Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia suddenly had creative skills like painting, drawing, or singing which were not previously evident.

Lead author Olivier Piguey said the study shows that individuals with dementia can display new creative behaviours and skills, despite also experiencing the cognitive and functional decline that is typical of dementia.

The study explored data from a questionnaire of 185 carers and although the results weren't clear as to why the disease unlocked these creative skills, Piguet said it could have something to do with the often-used areas of the brain shutting down, allowing for other parts to shine.

"Brain atrophy is relatively focal at the beginning. However, as the disease progresses and the atrophy becomes more diffuse, it can result in the release of 'spared' functions supported by brain regions that are less affected," he said.

"Music activities, for instance, appear to rely on widespread brain networks where brain pathology is not as severe as the regions supporting other cognitive activities, such as memory or language, that tend to decline markedly in people with dementia."


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