Parkinson's Boosts Up Creativity: A Blessing in Disguise
By Indrani Bhattacharyya | July 17, 2014 3:24 PM EST
In the latest study, researchers observed patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease (PD) are more creative than healthy beings.
It was also found that patients suffering from PD, who are on higher doses of medication, are more artistic than less-medicated patients.
Alzheimer's disease patient Isidora Tomaz, 82, sits in her armchair with two chairs placed in front of her by her husband Amilcar Dos Santos (unseen) to prevent her from falling to the ground in their house in Lisbon September 15, 2009. Several low income Portuguese families with Alzheimer's patients under their care are supported by Portugal's Alzheimer Association, a charity. Alzheimer Europe estimates the number of Alzheimer's patients in the European Union alone to surpass 7.0 million.
"It began with my observation that Parkinson's patients have a special interest in art and have creative hobbies incompatible with their physical limitations," said Rivka Inzelberg, professor at Tel Aviv University in Israel.
In this work, scientists conducted tests over 27 Parkinson's patients who were on anti-Parkinson's drugs and the same number (27) age and education-matched healthy individuals. The participants were then asked to perform the Verbal Fluency exam, in which a person is asked to say as many different words beginning with a certain letter and in a certain category.
After that all of them underwent a tougher test known as Remote Association Test, in which they were asked to name a fourth word (following three given words) within a fixed context.
The groups then took up the Tel Aviv University Creativity Test, which tested their invidual interpretation of abstract images and based on that further assessed the imagination inherent in answers to different visual-based questions.
And the final exam was a version of the test for a Novel Metaphor, used specifically for the study.
All throughout, the Parkinson's patients came up with brighter and more original answers and more thoughtful interpretations than their healthier counterparts.
“In order to rule out the possibility that the creative process evident in the hobbies of patients was linked to obsessive compulsions like gambling and hoarding, to which many Parkinson's patients fall prey, participants were also asked to fill out an extensive questionnaire, an analysis of which indicated no correlation between compulsive behavior and elevated creativity.”
The result was published in the journal Annals of Neurology.
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