Scientists who have been studying how the mind works have conducted brain scans which reveal similarities between the thought patterns of highly creative people and those with schizophrenia, both of whom are missing important receptors which are used to filter and direct thought.
Experts from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden think this might be what causes creative people to ”think outside the box” and in some cases leads to mental illness.
Creativity has long since been associated with an increased risk of depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and we now know that those with a family history of mental illness may stand a higher chance of being creative. Professor Fredrik Ullen believes he may be able to explain why.
Ullen took a look as the brains dopamine receptor genes (D2) which are believed to govern divergent thought.
The results showed that those who did well on tests had a lower level of D2 receptors than expected, as did those with schizophrenia.
The thalamus is a relay centre which filters information before it reaches areas of the cortex responsible for cognition and reasoning.
Fewer D2 receptors in the thalamus is likely to result in a lower level of signal filtering and a therefor higher flow of information from the thalamus.
UK psychologist Mark Millard believes this heavy flow of information is what causes a creative spark in people and he also feels it would explain how creative people often see unusual connections in problem-solving situations.
Millard has said businesses have already recognised this knowledge and are now beginning to capitalize on it by having what is known as ‘skunk works’ – secure secret laboratories for their highly creative staff so they can experiment freely without disrupting the daily business.
If you are concerned that you or anyone you know is suffering from a mental illness then it is important that you visit your GP who will be able to diagnose your condition. You may also find that talking to a counsellor may help and if you would like to further explore this option you can use the homepage of this site to contact a counsellor in your local area.