Positive changes can occur after a person has been diagnosed with dementia, a new study by researchers at Neuroscience Research Australia has found.
The first of its kind, the study has confirmed anecdotal evidence that creative skills such as painting, drawing, or singing – which were not previously evident in an individual – can emerge or improve in people with Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia.
“Our 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,” lead author Olivier Piguet says.
Piguet says that it a possible explanation is that dementia is a progressive brain disease.
“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.
“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.”