This project studies the neural correlates of emergence of visual artistic creativity in patients with frontotemporal dementia. Emergence of novel visual artistic skills has been anecdotally described in frontotemporal dementia. This is a striking phenomenon since it represents a gain of function in the setting of neurodegenerative brain disease.
In this pilot project we will be first to describe in detail the clinical, neuropsychological, and genetic features of the largest cohort in the world of patients with emergence of visual artistic creativity in the setting of frontotemporal dementia. We will use advanced structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to delineate brain network imbalances unique to this group in comparison to other frontotemporal dementia patients without change in visual artistic skills and to healthy controls. Unravelling the neural mechanism for the emergence of visual artistic creativity would promote knowledge regarding brain network balance and its relationship to complex behaviors in health and in disease. Additionally, it could reveal processes of neuroplasticity in neurodegenerative disease that, in turn, could lead to novel therapeutic strategies. Lastly, association of neurodegenerative disease with emergence of artistic talent would promote a more multidimensional, optimistic and positive narrative to reduce dementia stigma.