George Dvorsky in Gizmodo:
Researchers from the University of Liverpool have shown that it’s possible to detect neurodegenerative disorders in famous artists by analyzing subtle changes in their brush strokes over time. The technique could eventually be used to flag Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in artists before they’re diagnosed.
A new study published in Neuropsychology shows that a mathematical technique known as “fractal analysis” can be used to detect signs of neurodegeneration in an artist’s work. A research team led by Alex Forsythe from the University of Liverpool’s School of Psychology made the discovery by examining 2,092 paintings from the careers of seven famous artists who experienced either normal aging or neurodegenerative disorders.
Using fractal analysis, the researchers were able to identify complex geometric patterns in the brushstrokes of each artist. Fractals can reveal hidden and often self-repeating patterns in everyday objects and phenomena. These distinctive geometrical shapes are like fingerprints, allowing scientists to match an artist with his or her work.