Focal Lesions Stroke

Studies of patients with strokes have taught us much about how different areas of the cerebral cortex mediate specific behaviors, and, as I mentioned, creativity is heavily dependent on a number of cognitive skills. Thus, damage to specific areas of the cortex can result in a loss of the skills that depend on the portion of the cortex that is injured.

Alajouanine (1948), a French neurologist, reported several famous creative people who developed aphasia (a language-speech disorder)

from a stroke. One was an author and another was a fine artist. Not surprisingly, after suffering with aphasia the author was no longer artistically productive, and even though, according to Alajouanine, his aesthetic sense and judgment remained intact, his agrammatic aphasia (Broca's aphasia) had impaired his artistic realization. Not so for the artist, who even after he developed Wernicke's aphasia (in which a patient has a loss of verbal comprehension), maintained his artistic skill and creativity. According to Alajouanine, "He expressed the poetry of the Normandy coast, the glowing beauty of flowers or marine life and the richness of feminine flesh." Furthermore, Alajoua-nine wrote, "His pictorial art is far from being only a purely sensorial expression; it contained numerous intellectual and affective components, which, however, are untouched by aphasia." Alajouanine also suggested that this artist's painting might have improved after his stroke: "His always sharp affectivity is still sharper. . . . According to connoisseurs, he has perhaps gained a more intense and acute expression," but he did not explain what might account for this improvement.

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