At least one researcher believes the arts should be taught to everyone. Dr. Luis Fornazzari, a neurological consultant at St. Michael’s Hospital’s Memory Clinic and lead author of a new paper about the role of creativity in fending off dementia, says “it’s better than many medications and is as important as mathematics or history.”
Though a small group, studies with patients at the hospital indicated that even those with fairly advanced dementia still retained cognitive reserve in the area of the arts. Dr. Fornazzari explained that the neural networks appear to be “more resistant to the effects of diseases like Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia or even strokes.” One example was Mary Hecht, an internationally renowned sculptor, who despite advanced vascular dementia, was able to draw spur-of-the-moment detailed sketches of faces and figures, including those from memory.
Dr. Fornazzari concludes that art is “not simply a way of expanding our minds, but a way to physically bolster future generations against disease.” His team is currently studying whether practicing art can actually delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. They have already published an abstract suggesting that this may be the case.
Full articles Science Daily and Fast Company