Looking at the cup half full, a new study from Israel suggests that there is more than anecdotal evidence as to why people with Parkinson’s disease get more creative urges.
Following up on a 2012 study where Prof. Rivka Inzelberg from Tel Aviv University documents unusual cases of creativity in patients with Parkinson’s, she’s sought to find a way to measure this unusual phenomenon.
She and colleagues from the Sheba Medical Center and Bar-Ilan University in Israel have published a new study in the Annals of Neurology that looks at 27 patients being treated for Parkinson’s disease and compares them to 27 people without the disease.
The researchers gave the subjects a battery of tests to understand layers of creativity in thought and action. Some of the tests were global standardized tests for creativity; some were developed by the researchers.
The results of this first-ever comprehensive study to measure the creative thinking of Parkinson’s patients determined a demonstrable difference in creativity between Parkinson’s and non-Parkinson’s subjects.
The reason appears not to be the condition itself, but the dopamine-stimulating drugs that patients take to quell tremors. The drugs may either trigger creativity or reduce inhibition or one’s sense of self-perception, says Inzelberg, noting more research has to be done.
“If someone is already an artist, we have documented their urge to take more medication,” Inzelberg tells ISRAEL21c.
She’s also reported a causal link between the dosage of medication and the level of one’s creativity. A playwright she treated wanted to increase the amount of drugs he takes every day due to its perceived effects on his writing.
Illegal drugs like cocaine can also “reinforce dopamine activity,” Inzelberg notes.
But not everyone on Parkinson’s drugs will emerge to be an artist. For some the effect may be that they enjoy art more and think more creativity, and for some the feeling may not be present at all. That said, Inzelberg believes that art, for healthy or afflicted people anywhere, is a good way to achieve balance and well-being.
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