Keyword Tag Sort by


Categories: Creativity Dopamine D2 receptors Mental Health

Creativity Linked to Mental Health

New research shows a possible explanation for the link between mental health and creativity. By studying receptors in the brain, researchers at Karolinska Institutet have managed to show that the dopamine system in healthy, highly creative people is similar in some respects to that seen in people with schizophrenia.

High creative skills have been shown to be somewhat more common in people who have mental illness in the family. Creativity is also linked to a slightly higher risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Certain psychological traits, such as the ability to make unusual pr bizarre associations are also shared by schizophrenics and healthy, highly creative people. And now the correlation between creativity and mental health has scientific backing.

"We have studied the brain and the dopamine D2 receptors, and have shown that the dopamine system of healthy, highly creative people is similar to that found in people with schizophrenia," says associate professor Fredrik Ullén from Karolinska Institutet's Department of Woman and Child Health.

Just which brain mechanisms are responsible for this correlation is still something of a mystery, but Dr Ullén conjectures that the function of systems in the brain that use dopamine is significant; for example, studies have shown that dopamine receptor genes are linked to ability for divergent thought. Dr Ullén's study measured the creativity of healthy individuals using divergent psychological tests, in which the task was to find many different solutions to a problem.

"The study shows that highly creative people who did well on the divergent tests had a lower density of D2 receptors in the thalamus than less creative people," says Dr Ullén. "Schizophrenics are also known to have low D2 density in this part of the brain, suggesting a cause of the link between mental illness and creativity."

The thalamus serves as a kind of relay centre, filtering information before it reaches areas of the cortex, which is responsible, amongst other things, for cognition and reasoning.

"Fewer D2 receptors in the thalamus probably means a lower degree of signal filtering, and thus a higher flow of information from the thalamus," says Dr Ullén, and explains that this could a possible mechanism behind the ability of healthy highly creative people to see numerous uncommon connections in a problem-solving situation and the bizarre associations found in the mentally ill.

"Thinking outside the box might be facilitated by having a somewhat less intact box," says Dr Ullén about his new findings.

Publication:
Örjan de Manzano, Simon Cervenka, Anke Karabanov, Lars Farde & Fredrik Ullén
Thinking Outside a Less Intact Box; Thalamic Dopamine D2 Receptor Densities Are Negatively Related to Psychometric Creativity in Healthy Individuals

PLoS ONE, online 17 May 2010

Contact: Katarina Sternudd, Press Officer, Tel: +46 (0)8-524 838 95, E-mail: katarina.sternudd@ki.se 

Source: Karolinska Institutet

Photos (1)  [ view all photos ]


Fredrik Ullén. Photo: Carsten Dürer

Related News:

Link between creativity and mental illness confirmed 16 October 2012, 04:23
People in creative professions are treated more often for mental illness than the general...

Vitamin B Crucial to Children's Mental Health 4 October 2012, 03:02
A new study has uncovered a significant link between vitamin B levels and the mental health and...

Study Shows Promise for Teen Suicide Prevention 3 November 2011, 06:00
Roughly 1 million people die by suicide each year. In the U.S., where nearly 36,000 people...

Sexual abuse victims likely to face decades of health issues,... 29 June 2011, 17:20
24-year study tracked hormone levels, cognitive development and physical development of 80 girls...

Potential Target For Treating Schizophrenia Found 11 May 2011, 08:06
Scientists at the University of Glasgow have identified a potential target for the treatment of...

Brain scans reveal differences in brain structure in teenagers with... 1 April 2011, 04:29
Brain scans of aggressive and antisocial teenage boys with conduct disorder have revealed...

New Study Identifies those most at risk of Mental Health Problems... 28 March 2011, 06:57
One of the most difficult tasks for those trying to address the aftermath of a natural disaster,...

Happy Children Make Happy Adults 25 February 2011, 10:49
New research links well-being in adolescence with life satisfaction in adulthood.Being a...

Gender Influences Risk of Mental Illness in Children of Alcoholics 20 July 2010, 17:33
New Haven, Conn. — A new Yale University study reveals that gender plays an important role in...

Behavioural Incentives Mimic Effects of Medication on Brain Systems... 2 April 2010, 07:31
Medication and behavioural interventions help children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity...

Credits / Source:

Fredrik Ullén. Photo: Carsten Dürer