The self in art therapy – Brain-based assessment of the drawing process

Yu Shiou Lin, Peter Hartwich, Annemarie Wolff, Mehrshad Golesorkhi, Georg Northoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Art therapy plays important role in classical psychological assessment as it allows expressing the subject's sense of self. However, its effectiveness and validity could be impeded by lack of relationship to the patients’ neuronal changes in their brain. The aim of our theoretical-empirical paper is to propose a novel brain-based quantitative objective measurement of the self and how it shapes the drawing process. We discuss recent data that how the autocorrelation window (ACW) is related to the temporal continuity of self in current neuroscience and further develop a method to use ACW to measure the temporal continuity of the drawing process, probing it in two case studies. As expected, the schizophrenic subject shows lower ACW values compared to the healthy subject and reflects the well-known deficit in the temporal continuity of the self in schizophrenia. We concluded that ACW and eventually other measures of the brain's spatiotemporal structure might be able to serve as objective markers of the self in the drawing process. As our approach connects brain, self, and drawing process, it provides the theoretical basis for the future development of a brain-based assessment of the self in the drawing process and art therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109596
JournalMedical Hypotheses
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Autocorrelation window
  • Drawing process
  • Schizophrenia
  • Self
  • Self continuity
  • Temporal continuity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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