Art and Health

At present, a steadily increasing number of individuals suffer from neurodegenerative diseases while our healthcare system is challenged by a lack of promising medical treatment. We strongly believe in the potential of encounters with the arts to foster psychological well-being. Since the aesthetic sense appears to remain intact albeit cognitive abilities fade (see below), repetitive exposure to aesthetic stimuli may serve as a powerful tool to access emotional experience and scaffold communication in affected individuals. We are thus confident that our ongoing research will lay further empirical grounds for valuable evidence-based applications such as in art therapy or for museal intervention programs.

Within our focus on Art and Health, we are striving to unravel the interplay between different pathologies and the manifold components of an aesthetic experience. As our previous behavioural research unveiled (Graham, Stockinger, & Leder, 2013), individual aesthetic preferences remain stable over time in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, suggesting that our sense of beauty indeed might be deeply engrained within our brains, persisting even in case of severe cognitive decline. In the future, we also plan to employ neurophysiological measures investigating how the lesioned brain deals with aesthetic input.


Graham, D. J., Stockinger, S., & Leder, H. (2013). An Island of Stability: Art Images and

Natural Scenes – but Not Natural Faces - Show Consistent Esthetic Response in Alzheimer's-Related Dementia. Frontiers in Psychology, 4(107), 1-8. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00107




Michael Forster:

Helmut Leder: