A new study details the case of a renowned Canadian sculptor in the late stages of dementia who could still create detailed art from memory long after she lost the ability to perform simple, everyday tasks.
"Art opens the mind," said lead author Dr. Luis Fornazzari of St. Michael's Hospital in a press release. "Mary Hecht was a remarkable example of how artistic abilities are preserved in spite of the degeneration of the brain and a loss in the more mundane, day-to-day memory functions."
Hecht, who died in April 2013 at the age of 81, could not longer tell the time or recall the names of animals. But she could make spontaneous and detailed sketches of people and figures, often from memory.
What's more, when drawing, she'd speak eloquently about art, despite her advanced case of vascular dementia.
"This is the most exceptional example of the degree of preservation of artistic skills we've seen in our clinic," said co-auther Dr. Corinne Fischer, director at St. Michael's Hospital's Memory Clinic.
Fornazzari has previously authored a paper about an Alzheimer's patient who could still play piano and learn new songs.
"Art should be taught to everyone. It's better than many medications and is as important as mathematics or history," Fourrnazzari said.
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