Friday, November 2, 2007

Images of Alzheimer's

An article in Science Daily about Alzheimer's caught my eye. Brain imaging is rapidly evolving into a powerful tool to diagnose various types of brain disorders. In this study, a positron emission tomography (PET) scan of sugar uptake by the brain allows a more accurate diagnosis of a type of dementia frequently mis-diagnosed as Alzheimer's. This will allow for earlier detection and better treatment of dementia. Modern imaging methods like PET and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) allows us to peek into our brains and observe the effects of the disease. In multicolor these images can show loss of brain tissue as with MRI and patterns of metabolism as with PET. But these images are clinical. They don't portray the emotional turmoil the patient must be going through, the sense of loss and a steady inexorable distancing from the familiar world. How can a machine capture this personal catastrophe? I was reminded of a different kind of image of Alzheimer's in an article I read several years ago.

In 1997 artist William Utermohlen, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's when he was 60 years old. He captured the ravages of the disease in a series of haunting self-portraits. Soon after his last sketch in 2000, the artist stopped painting. He is now in a nursing home.




Galerie Beckel Odille Boicos, Paris

A picture is worth a thousand words. So true!


  1. Hi!! interesting stuff here - have you by any chance read anything by Oliver Sachs? 'Anthropologist on Mars' etc? He a neuro-analyst, anthropologist, historian, researcher, doctor - one of those types that I would take ages to begin talking to and then would not be able to shut up!! He's done some amazing work on artists and strange problems with malfunctioning of the brain. Worth a read - this article you have is so out of that book.

  2. Yeah they say art expresses the innermost feelings of the artist, and i guess it helps peole who can verbally express their emotions to vent out through art, the paintings look very painful and portrait the emotional turmoil the artist is going through

    BPO work from home