She Painted Bolero

Brain disease led Ravel to compose 'Bolero;' and a scientist to paint it
By Patrick Spain,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2008 11:14 AM CDT
At the Pyramids by Anne Adams   (University of Californai, San Francisco, Memory and Agong Center)
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(Newser) – Struck down by a degenerative brain disease, mathematician and scientist Anne Adams lost much of her ability to do even simple scientific tasks. But the disease also unleashed a fierce artistic creativity, as her brain rewired itself to compensate for the damage. Among her work is a painting that represents 340 bars of Ravel's "Bolero," accurately reflecting the composer's musical structure in visual form, the New York Times reports.

Unbeknownst to Adams, it turns out that Ravel also suffered from same disease, called frontotemporal dementia. " ‘Bolero’ is an exercise in compulsivity, structure and perseveration,” notes the neurologist who treated Adams; other works by Adams include a rendering of the mathematical ratio pi, and an image of a migraine aura. FTD is incurable—she died in 2007—and is the same disease that caused New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici to announce his retirement. (Read more mental illness stories.)