In one study, neurologists assessed an artist’s entire body of work – painting done both before and after her brain was injured. They reported that the paintings done after the injury showed more artistic skill, but also seemed to have less emotional impact as well as appearing unfinished.
In 2005, Swiss scientists reported on two artists whose post-injury work was decidedly different from the pre-injury art. One artist had damage in the area of the brain that helps form mental images; he began painting more abstractly. The other artist’s brain was damaged in the area that affects creativity. He began to paint more realistically and with brighter colors. While the researchers saw a striking difference in the work, the artists saw no differences. To them, all the art, both before and after their brains were injured, looked the same.
The same changes in art have been seen in people with Pick’s disease, which is similar to Alzheimer’s disease except the dementia affects mainly the frontal and temporal areas of the brain. Some people with Pick’s disease suddenly have amazing music and art talents. Brain scans of these people show damage to the left temporal lobe and reduced blood flow to the area. These scans are similar to the brain scans of autistic savants. (more…)