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Geser, F; Jellinger, KA; Fellner, L; Wenning, GK; Yilmazer-Hanke, D; Haybaeck, J.
Emergent creativity in frontotemporal dementia.
J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2021; 128(3):279-293 Doi: 10.1007/s00702-021-02325-z
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Haybäck Johannes

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Numerous papers report on connections between creative work and dementing illness, particularly in frontotemporal dementia (FTD), which may combine with motor neuron disease (FTD-MND). However, the emergence of FTD(-MND) patients' de novo artistic activities is rarely reported and underappreciated. Therefore, the present review summarizes relevant case studies' outcomes, capturing creativity's multifaceted nature. Here, we systematically searched for case reports by paying particular attention to the chronological development of individual patients' clinical symptoms, signs, and life events. We synoptically compared the various art domains to the pattern of brain atrophy, the clinical and pathological FTD subtypes. 22 FTD(-MND) patients were identified with creativity occurring either at the same time (41%) or starting after the disease onset (59%); the median lag between the first manifestation of disease and the beginning of creativity was two years. In another five patients, novel artistic activity was developed by a median of 8 years before the start of dementia symptoms. Artistic activity usually evolved over time with a peak in performance, followed by a decline that was further hampered by physical impairment during disease progression. Early on, the themes and objects depicted were often concrete and realistic, but they could become more abstract or symbolic at later stages. Emergent artistic processes may occur early on in the disease process. They appear to be a communication of inner life and may also reflect an attempt of compensation or "self-healing". The relative preservation of primary neocortical areas such as the visual, auditory, or motor cortex may enable the development of artistic activity in the face of degeneration of association cortical areas and subcortical, deeper central nervous system structures. It is crucial to understand the differential loss of function and an individual's creative abilities to implement caregiver-guided, personalized therapeutic strategies such as art therapy.

Find related publications in this database (Keywords)
Emergent creativity
Frontotemporal dementia
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