Latest News

The Importance of Dementia Compassionate Culture

Cognitive Dynamics Founder and President Daniel C. Potts, MD, FAAN was a recent guest of Mike Good (Together In This) for a podcast titled “The Importance of Dementia Compassionate Culture.”  In the podcast, Good and Potts discuss the story and art of Lester E. Potts, Jr., an Alabama saw miller who discovered a hidden talent for watercolor painting after the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, and how this discovery led to new insights about the persistence of personhood and creativity in persons living with dementia.

The program created in memory of Lester Potts, Bringing Art to Life, was then discussed as a means to grow empathy and create a culture of compassion in dementia care through art therapy, storytelling, and the building of intergenerational relationships.  The program has two active locations, at the University of Alabama and in Chicago (Bringing Art to Life: Chicago), and is under development at other sites.

For more about Bringing Art to Life, check this link: Bringing Art to Life

#20: The Importance of a Dementia Compassionate Culture with Dr. Daniel Potts

Bringing Art to Life – Chicago to be Featured at Alzheimer’s Foundation Conference

Bringing Art to Life – Chicago (BATL-C), an innovative intergenerational expressive arts program for persons living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, is being highlighted at the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s Concepts in Care Educational Conference in Chicago on October 19. The program is funded, in part, by a grant from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

A team from BATL-C will present the program from the standpoint of the student director (Angela Ray), neurologist and co-founder of the program (Daniel C. Potts, MD, FAAN), expressive arts therapist (Allison DeSantis, MA, LCPC) facility administrator (Ann Brennan), and a Chicago-based cognitive neurologist lead faculty (Neelum T. Aggarwal, MD).

BATL-C was piloted in 2016 in collaboration with Chicago Methodist Senior Services and Northside College Preparatory School, with support from High Socks for Hope Foundation.

For more information about BATL-C, please email us at


Bringing Art to Life Research Presented at IAGG 2017

The Bringing Art to Life (BATL) Research Team presented an abstract titled “The Effects of an Intergenerational Service Learning Experience on Ageist Attitudes” highlighting outcomes data from University of Alabama Honors students enrolled in UH 300: Art to Life at the 21st IAGG World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics in San Francisco on July 25, 2017.

UH 300: Art to Life is an Honors service learning class offered at the University of Alabama as part of our foundation’s Bringing Art to Life (BATL) program. Students learn about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, participate in the Virtual Dementia Tour, volunteer at an adult dementia daycare center, participate in mindfulness activities, develop an appreciation for the challenges of caregiving, and learn the tenets of person-centered care. In the experiential part of the course, students are paired with persons living with dementia, and participate in weekly art therapy sessions facilitated by an experienced art therapist. Students develop relationships with their participants, learn their life stories, and create a leather-bound life legacy book using, presenting this to their participants and their families in a celebratory dinner at the end of the semester.

A research team from the Alabama Research Institute on Aging and the UA Department of Psychology led by Keisha Ivey, MA and Rebecca Allen, PhD has been conducting research since 2015, and the current abstract addresses student data from pre-and post surveys measuring empathy and attitudes toward older adults, persons living with dementia and community service.

Compared with student controls from a psychology of aging course, BATL students exhibited statistically significant improvement in attitudes towards persons living with dementia and toward community service, as well as greater increases in empathy.

Research will be ongoing, and will involve analysis of the program’s impact on participating persons living with dementia and their caregivers.

For more information on Bringing Art to Life, read this Huffington Post article by Angel C. Duncan, MA, MFT-ATR, the Executive Arts Director for Cognitive Dynamics who helped to create the program:

From left to right, Dr. Anne Halli-Tierney, Dr. Rebecca Allen, and Dr. Daniel C. Potts at the 21st IAGG World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics

“Do You Know Me Now? Wins Silver Remi Award

Do You Know Me Now?, a short documentary about personhood and relationships in Alzheimer’s and other Dementias from Cognitive Dynamics, has won a Silver Remi Award from the Worldfest Houston International Film Festival.

The documentary highlights the lives and stories of two Canadian and two American persons with dementia (Rita Houston, Joan Borrie, Ed Feil and Lester E. Potts, Jr.) and their care partners, Dr. James Houston, Cathie Borrie, Naomi Feil and Ethelda Potts.

The documentary demonstrates how personhood persists despite dementia, and shows ways by which these care partners were able to tap into that personhood and build meaningful relationships and experience joy in the moment.

The documentary will eventually be made available for purchase and download.  Please watch future news posts from our website for further information.

Lester Potts’ Art Now Available on

The watercolor art of Lester E. Potts, Jr., an artist with Alzheimer’s disease, is now available for purchase at

Lester, a rural Alabama saw miller, had never painted until after the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Lester’s newly-found creativity improved his quality of life and had many other benefits. His art has been shown from Beverly Hills to Paris, has been the subject of research, and appears in articles, textbooks, devotional books and documentaries.

Lester’s art has been used as a tool of engagement and reminiscence between care givers and persons with dementia. 

Prints of Lester’s art are available in different sizes on the website.  In addition, 5 styles of greeting cards are available, with short verses composed by Daniel C. Potts, MD, FAAN on the back covers of each.

If you are not interested in purchasing, you may simply peruse the beautiful art that appears on the page.

Proceeds from the sale of all products appearing on go toward supporting the mission and programs of Cognitive Dynamics


Potts and Duncan to speak at Re-Imagine Dementia Conference

Cognitive Dynamics Founder and President, Daniel C. Potts, MD, FAAN, and Executive Arts Director, Angel C. Duncan, MA, MFT-ATR will co-present at the Re-Imagine Life With Dementia Conference in Atlanta, GA on July 27, 2017. 

The conference is sponsored by the Dementia Action Alliance, and brings together the diverse dementia community for inspiring discussions, learning experiences, and engaging interactions.

Potts and Duncan will highlight Bringing Art to Life, an innovative program developed in collaboration with the University of Alabama Honors College which brings art therapy and life story preservation to persons with Alzheimer’s disease and others causes of dementia  and their caregivers.

Musical Concert to benefit Cognitive Dynamics

Well-known Birmingham, Alabama acoustic music venue, Moonlight on the Mountain, will host a night of Bluegrass, Gospel, Folk, and Barbershop music on March 4, 2017 at 7:30 pm, benefiting Cognitive Dynamics Foundation and its programs.

The event features musical groups Shades Mountain Air, Drexel Rayford and Friends and Southern Harmony.

Proceeds and donations from the event will go to support Cognitive Dynamics Foundation’s programs that improve quality of life for people with dementia and their caregivers through the arts and storytelling, such as Bringing Art to Life.

The cost of admission is $20, CASH ONLY. Food and drink may be brought in, and doors open at 7 pm.

The address of the venue is 585 Shades Crest Road, Birmingham, Alabama 35226.

For more information, please visit the event’s Facebook page, here:

Cognitive Dynamics Launches Bringing Art to Life Chicago

Cognitive Dynamics Foundation has launched Bringing Art to Life Chicago, an innovative art therapy program for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.  The program will be based on the past 5 years’ success of Bringing Art to Life in partnership with the University of Alabama Honors College in the service learning course, UH Art to Life.

The program will bring art therapy and the opportunity for empathic, intergenerational relationships to persons with dementia and students in the Chicago area, as well as education and support for their caregivers.

Our team includes Project Directors and former UA Art to Life students, Angela Ray and Cyrus Alavi, Lead Physician and Rush University Neurologist, Neelum Aggarwal, MD, and VA Lead, Kevin Hull, JD.

The program is supported in part by the High Socks for Hope Foundation, a nonprofit started by Chicago White Sox pitcher, David Robertson and his wife, Erin.  The photographs below were made at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago at a recent fundraiser hosted by High Socks for Hope.

For more information about the program, please contact

BATL Chicago team Angela Ray, Neelum Aggarwal, MD, and Kevin Hull, JD

BATL Chicago Project Directors, Angela Ray and Cyrus Alavi

Chicago White Sox pitcher, David Robertson, wife, Erin, Angela Ray and Neelum Aggarwal, MD

Cognitive Dynamics and UA to Host Art Gala

To all former students & participants in the Art to Life program at the University of Alabama Honors College:

PLEASE SAVE THE DATE: APRIL 19, 2016 – 6 to 8 pm
Ferguson Center Gallery on the UA campus
751 Campus Drive West, Tuscaloosa, AL 35404

Cognitive Dynamics requests the honor of your presence at a gala celebrating 5 years of our Art to Life program. We want to honor our former participants, their families and all former students, as well as other organizations and individuals who have made this program possible. There will be a brief program in the Ferguson Center Theater at just after 6 pm, and then a gallery viewing of art created by our former participants.

We thank all of you for making this program what it is, and we want to honor you. We hope you can join us on the 19th.

The art and information about the program will be on display in the Ferguson Center Gallery from April 12th through the 22nd, and the Gallery will be open from 8 am until 10 pm for viewing.

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Art to Life: A Celebration – A Short Film

This video by Lauren Musgrove documents a celebratory dinner held on 12/8/2015 for the University of Alabama Honors College service learning course “Art to Life,” developed by Cognitive Dynamics Foundation in collaboration with the University. The course pairs undergraduate students of diverse majors with persons who have Alzheimer’s disease or other causes of dementia in an empathy and relationship-building art therapy, reminiscence and storytelling experience. To honor their participants, students host an end-of-semester gala at which leather-bound legacy books from are presented to the participants and their families. These books contain student letters, poetry, participant art and life story material. Students also give the participants the art they have created over the semester, and share stories and words of thanks to honor and validate the personhood of their new friends.

Click on the link below to watch the 6 minute video.

Art to Life: A Celebration