The secret of Leonardo Da Vinci's talent and Pablo Picasso's success may have been their dyslexia, say psychologists.
The two men both suffered from the 'word blindness' that affects as many as one in 12 children - but it seems it can also bring the keen spatial awareness that makes the difference between a jobbing painter and a master of art.
The finding, from Middlesex University psychologists, could help explain the brilliance of some of the greatest artists of all time and the timelessness of works such as the Mona Lisa.he researchers put 41 men and women through tests to assess their visuo-spatial ability. Although we tend to think of the skill in terms of map-reading and parking, the ability to process 3D information accurately is also key to art and design.
Around half of those taking part were dyslexic and so had trouble learning to spell, read and write.
The dyslexic men did better than the other men on many of the tests, including recalling the direction of the Queen's head on a postage stamp and reproducing designs using coloured blocks.
They were also faster and more accurate at navigating their way around a 'virtual town' on a computer screen.
"Also, many dyslexic people prefer to work out problems by thinking and doing rather than by speaking. This could help dyslexic men develop the kind of skills they need to succeed in the artistic and creative worlds," the Daily Mail quoted Dr Nicola Brunswick as saying.
Artists known or believed to have suffered from dyslexia include Da Vinci, Picasso, Rodin and Andy Warhol. Da Vinci, who is also thought to have suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, wrote his notes backwards, from right to left. Picasso had trouble reading and struggled at school.
The finding has been reported in the journal Learning and Individual Differences.