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Experts examine the paintings of great artists for signs of illness
Can the brush strokes of painters really indicate illnesses like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's? Researchers have now found that famous artists can capture neurodegenerative disorders by analyzing subtle changes in their brush strokes over time. The technique could eventually be used to diagnose Alzheimer's and Parkinson's in artists before the disease can be diagnosed.
The University of Liverpool scientists found in an investigation that neurodegenerative disorders of famous artists can be determined by analyzing the brushstrokes. Over time, there are subtle changes in those affected, which can indicate the diseases. The doctors published the results of their study in the medical journal "Neuropsychology".
Researchers discover evidence of Parkinson's disease from pictures of Dali.
New research suggests that artists can recognize neurodegenerative disorders before they are diagnosed. For example, early pictures by Salvator Dali show a so-called other fractal fingerprint compared to his later work, the doctors explain. This is considered an indication of Parkinson's disease.
Experts analyze 2092 paintings by well-known artists
A mathematical technique known as fractal analysis can be used to identify signs of neurodegeneration in a work by artists. By examining 2092 paintings from the careers of seven famous artists, the University of Liverpool researchers were able to determine whether the artist had either normal aging or neurodegenerative diseases.
Fractals are like fingerprints
A so-called fractal analysis can determine complex geometric patterns. Fractals can reveal hidden and often self-repeating patterns in everyday objects and appearances. These distinctive geometric shapes are like fingerprints, the authors explain.
Images by artists have their own unique fractal patterns
A fractal analysis is so accurate that it has already been used to determine the authenticity of important works of art. The technique has already been used, for example, to distinguish an authentic Jackson Pollock painting from a large collection of fakes, the authors explain. The result clearly shows that paintings by artists have their own unique fractal patterns.
Variations in the fractal fingerprint can indicate neurological decay
So the researchers investigated whether variations in an artist's fractal fingerprint over time are a function of increasing age or whether neurological decay has anything to do with it. For example, the Canadian artist Norval Morrisseau suffered from Parkinson's disease. This neurological disorder was also proven by an analysis of the fractal patterns in his brush strokes, the doctors say.
For the study, experts examine the images of seven well-known artists
For their study, the researchers examined paintings by four artists who are known to have Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. These included Salvadore Dali, Norval Morrisseau, James Brooks and Willem De Kooning. The experts also analyzed the works of three artists with no known neurodegenerative problems: Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet.
Changes can be detected years before the diagnosis of neurodegenerative disorders
The fractal analysis showed clear patterns of change among artists who suffered from neurological deterioration compared to normal-aged artists, the authors say. In all cases, the fractal fingerprints changed, but the fractal dimensions of the Parkinson's and Alzheimer's artists showed consistent patterns that differed from the healthy group. Changes can be detected years before the symptoms of the neurological decline begin.
Results are intended to bring about innovations for research directions
This process offers the potential for the detection of emerging neurological problems, the authors explain. We hope that our innovation can open up new research areas that will help to diagnose neurological diseases at an early stage. (as)