Mental Health, Creativity Link Discovered

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, May 19 (UPI) — Thinking outside the box — creativity — may also be linked to mental illness, researchers in Sweden said.

“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,” Fredrik Ullen of Karolinska Institutet said in a statement.

Ullen said studies show dopamine receptor genes are linked to the capacity for divergent thought.

The stud, published in the journal PLoS one, measured the creativity of healthy individuals using psychological tests to determine 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 — a part of the brain that serves as a kind of relay center filtering information — than less creative people,” Ullen said. “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.”

Fewer D2 receptors in the thalamus probably means a lower degree of signal filtering, and thus a higher flow of information from the thalamus and this may be behind the ability of healthy highly creative people to see numerous uncommon connections to solve a problem and the bizarre associations found in the mentally ill, Ullen said.

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