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Parkinson’s & Creativity

January 22, 2013

Side effects of meds for Parkinson’s disease may include bursts of creativity.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Parkinson’s meds and creativity.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

In some cases, the side effects of Parkinson’s disease medications may include enhanced creativity.  This according to neurologist Rifka Inzelberg of Tel Aviv University in Israel.  She reviewed case studies from around the world, all describing Parkinson’s patients that suddenly took up art, poetry, and other forms of creative expression during treatment.  Many of them had little prior experience in the arts.

RIFKA INZELBERG (Tel Aviv University, Israel):

Some of them became creative at the level where they could sell paintings in galleries and people would buy them.

HIRSHON:
Inzelberg says that drugs for Parkinson’s boost dopamine – a brain chemical associated with personal satisfaction. In this case, a dopamine surge could make some people more motivated to create art.  Understanding why some patients are predisposed to this side effect could help researchers understand the nature of creativity itself.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

A painting by a patient with Parkinson's Disease. Some patients experience unexpected bursts of creativity during treatment. (Credit: American Friends of Tel Aviv University)