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Profiles in Paint: An introduction

In this video visual artist Charlie Harrison describes how his project 'Profiles in Paint' came about.

In this video visual artist Charlie Harrison describes how his project Profiles in Paint came about.

The project led him to work with four individuals living with four different dementia diagnoses: typical Alzheimer’s disease, behavioural variant Frontotemporal Dementia (bvFTD), posterior cortical atrophy, and semantic dementia (SD). Each of the artists had a similar level of interest in art-making and volunteered to take part in the project as a way to communicate experiences of different dementias.

Typical Alzheimer’s disease (tAD)

Typical Alzheimer’s disease is most commonly associated with deterioration in memory, language, perception and a host of other skills and abilities, caused by the formation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. In typical Alzheimer’s disease, disease-related changes are evident across most brain areas, and are not localised to specific lobes. Therefore a range of abilities can be affected.

Behavioural variant Frontotemporal Dementia (bvFTD)

Frontotemporal Dementia is a form of dementia that usually affects cognitive functions such as behaviour and personality, with relatively few memory problems at the outset. It is a group of conditions caused by loss of cells mainly in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. The main symptoms are a progressive change in personality and behaviour or progressive deterioration in language abilities. It can affect both men and women and usually starts in the 40’s, 50’s or 60’s. However it can also affect older people, and rarely, even younger people. It was originally described by Arnold Pick in 1892 after whom it was named. Most doctors now prefer to reserve the name ‘Pick’s disease’ for just one of the types of changes in the brain tissue that may be seen with the disease.

Posterior cortical atrophy (PCA)

Posterior cortical atrophy is a progressive degenerative condition involving the loss and dysfunction of brain cells particularly at the back (posterior) of the brain. PCA is most usually considered to be an unusual or atypical variant of Alzheimer’s disease. Individuals with posterior cortical atrophy tend to have well preserved memory and language but instead show a progressive, dramatic and relatively selective decline in vision and/or literacy skills such as spelling, writing and arithmetic.

Semantic dementia (SD)

Semantic dementia is a kind of primary progressive aphasia – the term used for a group of dementias in which loss of speech and language abilities is the leading and most prominent problem. ‘Aphasia’ refers to a neurological language problem; ‘progressive’, becoming worse over time; and ‘primary’, due to brain tissue changes rather than an external cause. In SD, there is a loss of vocabulary and ability to understand spoken and written words (though speech itself is fluent), and ability to recognise people and objects also becomes affected.

CREDITS We would like to extend a special thank you to the Dementia Research Centre for providing supplementary footage for this video.
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Dementia and the Arts: Sharing Practice, Developing Understanding and Enhancing Lives

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