Turning off artistic ability: the influence of left DBS in art production

J Neurol Sci. 2009 Jun 15;281(1-2):116-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2009.03.001. Epub 2009 Mar 29.


Background: The influence of Parkinson's disease (PD) as well as deep brain stimulation (DBS) on visual-artistic production of people who have been artists is unclear. We systematically assessed the artistic-creative productions of a patient with PD who was referred to us for management of a left subthalamic region (STN) DBS. The patient was an artist before her disease started, permitting us to analyze changes in her artistic-creative production over the course of the illness and during her treatment with DBS.

Methods: We collected her paintings from four time periods: Time 1 (Early Pre-Presymptomatic), Time 2 (Later Presymptomatic), Time 3 (Symptomatic), and Time 4 (DBS Symptomatic). A total of 59 paintings were submitted to a panel of judges, who rated the paintings on 6 different artistic qualities including: aesthetics, closure, evocative impact, novelty, representation, technique.

Results: Aesthetics and evocative impact significantly declined from Time 2 to Time 4. Representation and technique indicated a curvilinear relationship, with initial improvement from Time 1 to Time 2 followed by a decline from Time 2 to Time 4.

Conclusions: These results suggest that left STN/SNR-DBS impacted artistic performances in our patient. The reason for these alterations is not known, but it might be that alterations of left hemisphere functions induce a hemispheric bias reducing the influence the right hemisphere which is important for artistic creativity. The left hemisphere itself plays a critical role in artistic creativity and DBS might have altered left hemisphere functions or altered the mesolimbic system which might have also influenced creativity. Future studies will be required to learn how PD and DBS influence creativity.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Art*
  • Creativity*
  • Deep Brain Stimulation / adverse effects*
  • Esthetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Paintings
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology*
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy*
  • Subthalamic Nucleus