Senior Health

Why Are Alzheimer's Patients More Creative than They Were Before?

Another case study: Former artist with viral ecephalitis

Once researchers published their study on Mary Hecht, they looked at another artist, Lonni Sue Johnson. Johnson was diagnosed with viral encephalitis, which caused her to lose the ability to form new memories. According to an article published in Time Magazine, her brain scans showed that her brain's hippocampus and neighboring structures were damaged by the virus. The damage made it impossible to cement short-term memories into long-term memories.

While Johnson can remember certain details from when she was younger, she cannot remember people that she had just met. However, Johnson can still point out her own art, play her viola, read music, and even learn to play new songs. Johnson did have these skills before she was diagnosed with viral ecephalitis, but experts argue that Johnson’s abilities are caused by her procedural or muscle memory.

Researchers hope to use the knowledge they found in Johnson’s case to help with research for Alzheimer's disease.