In recent years, the paradoxical occurrence of creativity and related behaviours in patients with neurological conditions has begun to gain attention. Relevant examples include the emergence of previously unrecognized visual and musical creativity in the context of the neurodegenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia, and also in some cases of stroke. The description of these phenomena has helped to influence models of the neural underpinnings of creativity. Specifically, it is possible that down-regulation of frontal or anterior temporal function may enable spontaneous creative insights that originate in other regions of the brain. However, other explanations may also be tenable, and further research needs to be carried out to gauge why certain individuals and not others with neurological conditions become creative, and how this enhanced creativity may be understood in terms of specific cognitive processes and neural systems.
Neurological conditions are inevitably accompanied by deficits, disabilities and handicaps – problems that are emphasized by the patients' loved ones, clinicians and researchers alike. In rare instances, however, neurological changes have led to observations of enhanced function, including the domain of creativity. For example, Lythgoe and colleagues described a patient who, following a subarachnoid haemorrhage, showed an all-encompassing compulsion to sculpt, draw and paint, having shown no premorbid interest in art (Lythgoe et al.,2005). Defining and measuring creativity has proven to be a monumental task, and taken together with the considerable individual differences in response to brain damage, evidence unambiguously demonstrating increased creativity is scarce.
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