The link between paint strokes and Alzheimer’s disease

Painting artworks have long been associated with creative geniuses. However, according to a new study by the University of Liverpool, paint strokes may help detect neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
The findings were published in Neuropsychology; Psychologist Dr. Alex Forsythe led the study.

Researchers analyzed 2,092 paintings from seven notable artists who experienced both normal aging and neurodegenerative problems. Of the seven artists, two had Alzheimer’s (James Brooks and Willem De Kooning), two had Parkinson’s (Salvador Dali and Norval Morrisseau), and three had no neurodegenerative disorder (Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, and Claude Monet).

With examining each brushstroke, researchers were able to apply a method known as Fractal analyses.
The method involves the examination of complex geometric patterns or self-repeating patterns, also known as the “fingerprints of nature.”

The self-repeating patterns can be compared to those of natural phenomena found in clouds, rivers or snow to determine an art’s authenticity. It should also be noted that whether or not painters work in different genres or styles, the fractal dimension should remain similar.

According to researchers, analyzing an artist’s fractal in their paintings helped determine if their work over the years was due to increased age or a developing cognitive disorder. The study’s results demonstrated clear patterns of change in the fractal dimension of the artists who suffered from a neurodegenerative disorder, rather than normal aging, according to PsyPost.

Despite the results, however, Dr. Forsythe had this to say about the study’s findings: “Art has long been embraced by psychologists an effective method of improving the quality of life for those persons living with cognitive disorders.”

“We hope that our innovation may open up new research directions that will help to diagnose neurological disease in the early stages,” Dr. Forsythe concluded.

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