An international team of scientists has found a genetic link between creativity and the development of two psychiatric disorders: schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, according to a recent study published in Nature Neuroscience.
The scientists report that people with these psychiatric disorders share common gene variants with otherwise healthy, creative people, notes an article in ScienceNordic.
This is new evidence that this particular group of genes influences thought processes and behavior, making people more or less creative, and even more or less likely to develop psychotic disorders, according to the article.
The research was conducted by Kári Stefánsson who is the CEO of deCODE Genetics, a private research institution in genetic research based in Iceland, along with colleagues from the UK, USA and Japan.
“We’ve known for a long time that schizophrenia is overrepresented in creative professions and we also know that there are genetic variations that indicate a risk of developing schizophrenia. But what we didn’t know was whether these genetic variants predisposed creative people to schizophrenia,” says Stefánsson.
For the purposes of this study, the scientists defined a creative person as anyone involved in the arts as a professional or as a member of an artistic society, the article says.
After identifying the group of gene variants associated with schizophrenia and bipolar, the scientists then looked for an association between the group of gene variants and levels of creativity in people who were not diagnosed with either condition.
They found that the genetic factors associated with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia and bipolar disorder also are responsible for levels of creativity in otherwise healthy people.
“We see that abnormality in thinking, or thinking out of the box if you will, is not a consequence of either disease. In fact, it is likely that you already think differently due to these common genetic variants that alter cognitive functioning, which then put you at a greater risk of developing schizophrenia,” says Stefánsson.