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Schizophrenia & Creativity

June 24, 2010

The brains of healthy creative people share some similarities with those of schizophrenia patients.


Creativity and schizophrenia. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

People with schizophrenia tend to have creative relatives. Now, researchers at the Karolinksa Institutet in Sweden may have found a reason why. Neuroscientist Orjan de Manzano and his colleagues studied the brains of healthy volunteers. The more creative ones tended to have less densely packed dopamine receptors, called D2, in a part of the brain called the thalamus.

ÖRJAN DE MANZANO (Karolinksa Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden):
And this pattern, or configuration of receptors, is exactly what has been found in the majority of patients with schizophrenia.

De Manzano says the D2 system filters information, and controls output to the brain’s higher thought centers. A weak filter may cause bizarre, delusional thinking in schizophrenic patients. But in its benign form, it may help people connect seemingly unrelated ideas, which is central to the creative process. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.