Parkinson's Disease patients who take dopamine may experience sudden bursts of unexplained creativity – drawing pictures, making sculptures and even writing novels and poetry, a new study has found.
To reach their conclusions, Italian researchers tracked 36 patients with Parkinson's - 18 with increased artistic production and 18 without - and compared them with 36 healthy people without Parkinson's. None of the patients had engaged in artistic hobbies before they took dopamine.
What they found was that the dopamine prompted the Parkinson’s patients who took it to embrace their new-found artistic interests with such vigor, that they sometimes ignored other aspects of their everyday life -- such as daily chores and social activities, according to the study published in the European Journal of Neurology.
"Patients were included in the artistic group if they started working on creative projects for two or more hours a day after starting taking dopamine," explained lead author Dr Margherita Canesi, a neurological specialist at the Centro Parkinson e Disordini del Movimento in Milan. "Our findings suggest that the patients' newly acquired artistic skills were probably there all along, but did not start to emerge until they took the dopamine therapy.”
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers. It can also regulate movement and emotional responses in patients with Parkinson's disease, which is caused by dopamine deficiency in the brain.
The new study found most of the patients who experienced bursts of creativity produced drawings and paintings (83 percent). About half wrote poetry or novels and more than quarter built sculptures.
Some of the artwork the patients produced was of such high quality that it was sold or published, researchers said.