Exploration of Possible Changes in Response to Visual Stimuli of Individuals with Dementia

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Olson, Donna
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
This qualitative pilot research study searched for patterns in response to visual stimuli by persons with dementia. To date, limited information was found in professional art therapy journals regarding dementia and visual stimuli. The basic question dealt with was “Can there be relevant changes noted in a person’s response to visual stimuli as dementia stages progress?” Subjects from a variety of medically diagnosed stages of dementia were followed for a four week period. A data gathering instrument was developed by the researcher for observing and analyzing responses for patterns. The visual stimuli consisted of a set of seasonal photographs of trees (Kiev, n.d., Appendix B) accompanied by a question asking for the subject’s preference on that particular day. This process was carried out at regular intervals throughout the time span. The finding of a pattern in this study did point to the participants’ residual strength rather than focusing on declining abilities.