Creative innovation with temporal lobe epilepsy and lobectomy

Academic Article


  • Objectives: Some patients with left temporal degeneration develop visual artistic abilities. These new artistic abilities may be due to disinhibition of the visuo-spatially dominant right hemisphere. Many famous artists have had epilepsy and it is possible that some may have had left temporal seizures (LTS) and this left temporal dysfunction disinhibited their right hemisphere. Alternatively, unilateral epilepsy may alter intrahemispheric connectivity and right anterior temporal lobe seizures (RTS) may have increased these artists' right hemisphere mediated visual artistic creativity. Methods: To test the disinhibition versus enhanced connectivity hypotheses we studied 9 participants with RTS and 9 with left anterior temporal seizures (LTS) who underwent unilateral lobectomy for the treatment of medically refractory epilepsy. Creativity was tested using the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT). Results and conclusions: There were no between group differences in either the verbal or figural scores of the TTCT, suggesting that unilateral anterior temporal ablation did not enhance visual artistic ability; however, for the RTS participants' figural creativity scores were significantly higher than verbal scores. Whereas these results fail to support the left temporal lobe disinhibition postulate of enhanced figural creativity, the finding that the patients with RTS had better figural than verbal creativity suggests that their recurrent right hemispheric seizures lead to changes in their right hemispheric networks that facilitated visual creativity. To obtain converging evidence, studies on RTS participants who have not undergone lobectomy will need to be performed. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Ghacibeh GA; Heilman KM
  • Start Page

  • 45
  • End Page

  • 48
  • Volume

  • 324
  • Issue

  • 1-2