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Artistic productivity and creative thinking in Parkinson’s disease


M. Canesi, Istituti Clinici di Perfezionamento – Parkinson Institute, Via Bignami 1, Milano 20126, Italy (tel.: (+39) 02 5799 3222; fax: (+39) 02 5799 3468; e-mail:


Background and purpose: Creative drive and enhanced artistic-like production may emerge in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) during dopaminergic therapy. However, it has not been described to date whether this artistic-like production results from dopaminergic drugs triggering innate skills or it could be considered as a repeated behavior possibly associated with impulse control disorders (ICDs).

Methods:  We investigated creative drive in a cohort of cognitively preserved patients with PD by means of the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT). We also investigated a putative association between creative drive and ICDs in 36 PD patients with (PD-c) or without (PD-nc) increased artistic-like production and 36 healthy controls (HC). We considered artistic-like productivity to be enhanced if patients reported working on any form of art more than 2 h per day after the introduction of dopaminergic treatment. The TTCT, the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11A), the Minnesota Impulsive Disorders Interview (MIDI), and the Punding Rating Scale were applied.

Results:  Mean TTCT score of PD-c was found to be similar to HC (169.4 ± 51.6 vs. 170.2 ± 69.7, respectively), and both PD-c and HC had significantly higher TTCT scores than patients with PD-nc (125.4 ± 46.1 P < 0.05). TTCT did not correlate with any demographic or clinical data in both PD subgroups. No correlation was found between TTCT, BIS-11A, and MIDI.

Conclusions:  Our study suggests that newly acquired artistic-like production in patients with PD is not associated with impulsivity or ICDs. Artistic-like production might represent the emerging of innate skills in a subset of predisposed patients with PD on dopaminergic therapy.