In the paintings of famous artists formalized signs of senile dementia


    Self-portraits of William Utermolen, made in the years 1967-2000. The diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease was made to the master in 1995.

    Scientists from the University of Liverpool are sure that the paintings of some artists are not just masterpieces of painting, but also the history of diseases. Over the years, the style of artists has changed. It changes especially strongly in those diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. These subtle style changes are a sign of dementia, that is, neurodegenerative diseases (NDD), called senile dementia.

    According to scientists, certain changes in the style of fiction can be formalized. Thus, people with NDD can be identified by changing their patterns over time. In the same way as now, patients are identified by changes in speech (seeanalysis of age-related degradation in a speech by President Ronald Reagan , who suffered from senile dementia, like some other age-related politicians).

    Alzheimer's disease, Peak's disease, as well as a dozen other neurodegenerative diseases - the scourge of the modern era, when modern medicine has supported life in aging citizens for decades. But doctors have not yet learned to reverse the progressive death of nerve cells in old age, which leads to various neurological symptoms.

    As a rule, the first symptoms of Alzheimer's disease appear after 65 years. It all starts with mild cognitive impairment: it is forgetfulness, difficulty in determining the time, deterioration in social and professional activity, egocentrism, subdepressive reactions to one's own failure, delusional disorders, etc. At the first stage, patients are still trying to somehow correct their own behavior, but then their condition worsens. A decrease in the level of judgment is clearly expressed, speech is slowed down, the interests of patients are limited. In the end, there comes a complete collapse of memory and the collapse of speech.

    Alzheimer's disease (60-70% of cases of dementia) was first described in 1906 , but with an increase in average life expectancy, the detection and number of victims is growing rapidly. In 2015approximately 47.5 million people worldwide suffered from dementia.

    There is no cure, although certain genetic factors associated with the disease are known, so there remains hope for a cure.

    Scientists from the University of Liverpool conducted a fractal analysis of neurological changes in the writing technique of seven artists. However, on the example of some artists, their conclusion is obvious without any fractal analysis. Just look at the pictures. For example, see William Utermolen's self-portraits made in 1967-2000 above. The diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease was made to the master in 1995.

    William Utermolen is one of several artists who were not lucky enough to encounter NDZ. Scientists took for analysis the pictures of four celebrities with the following diagnosis: Salvador Dali, James Brooks, Norval Morisso and Willem de Kooning.


    The paintings of James Brooks “Doubt” (1950) and “The Untitled” (1978)

    An analysis was also made of three healthy artists: Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Marc Chagall, for comparison. A fractal analysis of age-related changes in brush strokes was carried out for artists suffering from NDD, compared with age-related changes in strokes of healthy artists. Scientists have identified not only the decisive difference in their style, but also some signs that may serve as early indicators of LDN.

    In total, 2092 works of seven artists were taken for research. Fractal analysis revealed complex geometric shapes of the strokes of each of them. This is a kind of “fingerprints” that allow you to confidently identify a particular artist. Fractal analysis of brush strokes was previously used to determine the authenticity of the paintings.

    The result of the study is shown in the illustration. Left - age-related changes in the fractal measurement of smears in healthy artists (control group). In the center is a change in the fractal dimension with age among artists suffering from Alzheimer's disease (James Brooks, Willem de Kooning). On the right is the change in fractal dimension with age among artists suffering from Parkinson's disease (Salvador Dali, Norval Morisso).



    Changes under the influence of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease are clearly visible with age, and they were visible long before the artists were actually diagnosed with neurodegenerative diseases.

    In an ordinary person, memory begins to deteriorate and speech slows down, and in an artist long before this, brush strokes begin to change slightly. For these talents, painting is a peculiar means of expression, this is their speech. That is why changes in brain activity are primarily manifested in the pictures.

    If you believe the graphs, then you can predict the onset of senile Alzheimer's disease in artists almost 30-40 years old.

    Perhaps a fractal analysis will determine the signs of Alzheimer's disease in some contemporary artists, who might not have suspected that the first symptoms of senile dementia would soon appear. So they can prepare for the inevitable consequences.

    Let's hope that science will automatically detect signs of senile dementia in other data - in source code patterns, in fiction, in keyboard typing speed, etc. Then the monitoring program can be installed on the computer, work in the previous mode and just wait for the information message.

    A scientific article was published in December 2016 in the journal Neuropsychology (doi: 10.1037 / neu0000303).

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