De novo artistic behaviour following brain injury

Front Neurol Neurosci. 2007;22:75-88. doi: 10.1159/000102873.


The effect of brain injury and disease on the output of established artists is an object of much study and debate. The emergence of de novo artistic behaviour following such injury or disease, while very rare, has been recorded in cases of frontotemporal dementia, epilepsy, subarachnoid haemorrhage and Parkinson's disease. This may be an underdiagnosed phenomenon and may represent an opportunity to further understand the neural bases of creative thought and behaviour in man and those of cognitive change after brain injury. There is clearly an important role for hemispheric localization of pathology, which is usually within the temporal cortex, upon the medium of artistic expression, and a likely role for mild frontal cortical dysfunction in producing certain behavioural and cognitive characteristics that may be conducive to the production of art. Possible mechanisms of 'artistic drive' and 'creative idea generation' in these patients are also considered. The increased recognition and responsible nurturing of this behaviour in patients may serve as a source of great comfort to individuals and their families at an otherwise difficult time.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Damage, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / psychology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Creativity*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / pathology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Paintings / psychology*
  • Recovery of Function / physiology
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology