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Did Leonardo Da Vinci Have ADHD? Two Scientists Think So

The master painter’s 500th death anniversary was observed on May 2 this year.

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Updated:May 24, 2019, 7:20 PM IST
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Did Leonardo Da Vinci Have ADHD? Two Scientists Think So
The portrait of Mona Lisa is pictured on a painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci during a presentation in Geneva. (Image: Reuters)

Could Leonardo Da Vinci have left many of his works unfinished due to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD? Two scientists who studied historical accounts of the Italian polymath’s life believe the behavioural condition may have proven detrimental in finalising tasks “that at first had attracted his enthusiasm."

Leonardo da Vinci is widely known for his paintings, especially his masterpieces Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, besides brilliant ideas including sketches of early versions of a parachute, a helicopter and even a tank.

"The story of Da Vinci is one of a paradox - a great mind that has compassed the wonders of anatomy, natural philosophy and art, but also failed to complete so many projects," neurophysiologist Marco Catani and medical historian Paolo Mazzarello were quoted as having written in a new paper.

"The excessive time dedicated to idea planning and the lack of perseverance seems to have been particularly detrimental to finalise tasks that at first had attracted his enthusiasm."

Catani - who specialises in autism and ADHD - and his colleague further argue that the “littering of commissioned works that were abandoned, da Vinci's lack of discipline, his weird work hours and lack of sleep could all be symptomatic of ADHD,” according to Live Science.

"He was left-handed and aged 65 he suffered a severe left hemisphere stroke, which left his language abilities intact. These clinical observations strongly indicate a reverse right-hemisphere dominance for language in Leonardo's brain, which is found in less than 5 percent of the general population," the pair explain in the paper.

"Furthermore, his notebooks show mirror writing and spelling errors that have been considered suggestive of dyslexia. Atypical hemispheric dominance, left-handedness and dyslexia are more prevalent in children with neurodevelopmental conditions, including ADHD."

The master painter’s 500th death anniversary was observed on May 2 this year.

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