Flip­ping the Switch

Los Angeles Times - - STAY HEALTHY -

De­men­tia al­ters spe­cific parts of the brain dif­fer­ently. It can bring “right brain” cre­ative im­pulses that have al­ways been present, but dor­mant, to the fore, re­search has found. At the same time, some peo­ple lose the in­hi­bi­tions and “judgy” parts of the brain that once might have si­lenced their in­ner artist. And the arts can still tap deep emo­tions. De­men­tia pa­tients “lose some­thing, but they find some­thing else,” says Mary Mit­tel­man, a re­search pro­fes­sor at New York Uni­ver­sity.

“Dif­fer­ent parts of the brain can still be ac­cessed—you just have to find what they con­nect to,” says Berna Hueb­ner, who co-di­rected the ground­break­ing doc­u­men­tary I Re­mem­ber Bet­ter When I Paint, which fea­tures her own mother.

“Her lights are off” is how a doc­tor de­scribed a sullen, with­drawn Hilda Goren­stein. Hueb­ner sug­gested her mom try paint­ing, an aban­doned old love. “Yes, I re­mem­ber bet­ter when I paint,” she replied—and went on to cre­ate hun­dreds of amaz­ing can­vases.

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