The Thinking Eye is developing neuropsychological, behavioural and artistic research into the relationship between visual art, identity and the brain.

 

Colour Rooms: Neuroaesthetic judgements on colour and space in dementia syndromes (2017/2019)

Presently little information is available concerning the visual aesthetic preferences of people with dementia, particularly in real world environments, and how these might relate to underlying brain disease in particular dementia syndromes. This has important practical implications, for example in environmental design to maximise patients’ wellbeing. In this experiment a reduced model paradigm of colour and spatial cues will be used to begin to address this issue. Personal preferences/dislikes for colours in a spatial and non-spatial contexts will be studied in relation to visual pattern processing in people with various forms of dementia, referenced to healthy individuals. 

For the first phase of this research a photographic series of monochromatic ‘Colour Rooms’ will be created. The choice of colours will be guided by findings of previous research on colour preferences and dislikes and matched to renowned monochromatic artworks in the public domain. The range of Colour Rooms will fall within the following colours schemes: Bright colours; light colours; muted colours and greyscale colours.                               

For the next phase variations of an abstract pattern will be designed that can be executed in both 2D and 3D forms. These patterns will first be made in greyscale to create a colour-neutral volumetric perceptual matching task and a colour hue perception task will measure baseline colour perception abilities. All participants will have a detailed assessment of general neuropsychological functions using the research battery developed at the UCL Dementia Research Centre.  In addition, all patients will have volumetric brain MRI for correlative neuroanatomical analysis with behavioural parameters using voxel-based morphometry (VBM), possibly complemented by fMRI functional connectivity analyses. Behavioural and VBM analyses will be implemented in Stata and SPM12 and will compare participant groups on the parameters of interest while taking potentially confounding demographic, background cognitive and disease severity factors into account.

Janneke van Leeuwen, in collaboration with Prof. Jason Warren, Prof. Sebastian Crutch, Dr. Aida Suarez Gonzales, Prof. Jeroen Boomgaard; Wellcome Collection, London; Dementia Research Centre, UCL Institute of Neurology, London; Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam.

Colour Room Sketch.jpg
 

Visual Thinking Strategies in dementia syndromes (2017/2019)

The primary aim of this research is to understand the relationship between visual attention, verbal communication and different forms of dementia. The project will marry computational analysis of two complex datasets: natural language processing of participant spoken responses to artworks, and a Bayesian machine learning (ML) approach to large raw eyetracking time series datasets indicating where people looked and in which order. These data and analytical techniques will be applied to evaluating a visual arts-based facilitated learning method named Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), to be used with people with different forms of dementia (e.g. typical Alzheimer’s disease, posterior cortical atrophy, frontotemporal dementia) and neurologically healthy controls. These data will be derived by running individual and group-based sessions in which individual participants with and without dementia are presented with various forms of visual art and complex imagery.

Janneke van Leeuwen, in collaboration with Prof. Jason Warren, Prof. Sebastian Crutch, Dr. Aida Suarez Gonzales, Prof. Jeroen Boomgaard; Wellcome Collection, London; Dementia Research Centre, UCL Institute of Neurology, London; Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam.

 

grey matter and the colourful mind (2017/2019); 

As part of the 2-years Created Out of Mind Hub residency at the Wellcome Collection, an artistic reflection will be developed on the communication mechanisms of visual art in relation to neuropsychological functioning and our sense of self in a social and cultural context.

Questions that will be addressed:

-To which extend do colour and form have an universal effect on our brains?

-How do context and perceived intent influence the experience of artistic value?

-What can visual art tell us about the way dementia effects the sense of identy and brain functioning?

-How can these findings inform the making process of visual art?

Janneke van Leeuwen, in collaboration with Prof. Jason Warren, Prof. Sebastian Crutch, Dr. Aida Suarez Gonzales, Prof. Jeroen Boomgaard; Wellcome Collection, London; Dementia Research Centre, UCL Institute of Neurology, London; Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam.