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Among its many symptoms, dementia robs people of their verbal skills but certain types of dementia can also release extraordinary abilities to draw, paint, or sculpt, according to Bruce L. Miller, M.D., noted behavioral neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Miller, who is the clinical director of UCSF's Memory and Aging Center, will speak on frontotemporal dementia and the neuropsychology of creativity at an April 21 workshop on creativity, aging, and health sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the Society for the Arts in Healthcare (SAH).
“The goal of the workshop is to foster collaborations between researchers on health and aging and the arts communities and to find ways to tap into creativity's potential health benefits,” said Judith A. Salerno, M.D., M.S., NIA Deputy Director.
"We know intuitively that art and creativity can dramatically improve older people's quality of life and health,” said Gay Hanna, Ph.D., executive director of the SAH. “We look forward to hearing from pioneers in this emerging and important field and to discussing the direction of future research."
The workshop, which will be held before the SAH annual meeting April 22 – 24, takes place April 21 from 1- 4:30 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel in Old Town Alexandria, VA. The agenda:
- Visual Creativity - From Cave Paintings to Alzheimer's disease: How people develop extraordinary abilities to draw, paint, sculpt or play music with frontotemporal dementia. Such creativity/brain connections will be described in a keynote address by researcher Miller, Professor of Neurology at the University of California at San Francisco.
- The Curtain Rises for Research on Creativity, Aging & Health : A review of research in the area of art, aging, and health by Gene D. Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Center on Aging, Health & Humanities, The George Washington University.
- Monet's Vision: How Older Artists Adapt to Age-Related Changes by Dahlia W. Zaidel, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience in University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Psychology.
- Creative Research Designs and Creative Outcomes for Research on Creativity by John B. McKinlay, Ph.D., Epidemiologist, Medical Sociologist, and Chief Scientist of the New England Research Institutes.
Members of the press are invited to attend this session. Contact Jeannine Mjoseth in the NIA Office of Communications and Public Liaison at 301/496-1752 or firstname.lastname@example.org  or the Society for the Arts in Healthcare at 202/299-9770 or Conference@theSAH.org .
The NIA leads the Federal effort supporting and conducting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. NIA is part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (www.nia.nih.gov ). The Washington, D.C.-based Society for the Arts in Healthcare was founded in 1990 to promote the incorporation of the arts as an integral component of healthcare (www.thesah.org/ ).