If you were asked to pick something that you thought would trigger an undiscovered artistic talent, you probably wouldn’t reply, “degenerative brain disease”, but it’s completely plausible. In one such case, Tommy Mchugh was brought to a hospital, in 2001, because of a sudden onset of severe headache. Testing showed that he suffered from subarachniod hemorrhages caused by a stroke. After surgery he complained of what can be described as a “split mind disorder”, where his perceptions and personality were altered (3)(6). He began to compulsively express these altered perceptions through art, which he had shown no interest or ability in, prior to the stroke.
Studies of these cases are suggestive of mild frontotemporal dysfunction. Specifically, Tommy’s tests of executive function showed impairment, mainly in tasks which required alternating between categories or tasks, but not to the extent found in previous studies of frontotemporal dementia. Clinical characteristics include; “…a profound alteration in character and social conduct, occurring in the context of relative preservation of instrumental functions of perception, spatial skills, praxis and memory”(7). Patients also experience a decline in social conduct, “breaches of interpersonal etiquette, tactlessness and disinhibition” as well as “impairment in regulation of personal conduct”(7). They also experience speech impairment and cognitive changes (7)