The neural processes underlying that which we call creativity have nothing to do with rationality. That is to say, if we look at how the brain generates creativity, we will see that it is not a rational process at all; creativity is not born out of reasoning.
Rodolfo R. Llinás, I of the Vortex: From Neurons to Self
(Also a professor at NYU Med!)
- 31st August
- 21st October
Research evidence supports the notion that dopaminergic neurotransmission plays a role in creative thought and behavior. A group of researchers in Sweden investigated the relationship between creativity, as indexed by divergent thinking (the ability to generate many novel ideas by exploring a multitude of options), and dopamine receptor expression in the brain because divergent thinking is known to be influenced by dopaminergic neurotransmission and function.
Even in healthy individuals, many creativity-related measures including divergent thinking have been associated with pathological personality traits like psychoticism, schizotypy, as well as a liability for the schizophrenia spectrum and bipolar disorders. Interestingly enough, the networks relevant to divergent thinking overlap to a great extent with regions and networks affected in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, both of which are known to be influenced by dopaminergic neurotransmission and activity of the D2 receptor. Moreover, aberrations dopaminergic function in brain regions like the thalamus and the striatum have been associated to these psychopathologies and genetic liabilities.
So… Keeping all of this in mind, this research team correlated scores of multiple divergent thinking tests with regional D2 receptor densities (thalamus) and found a negative correlation. Thus, a higher score in “creative thinking” was associated to lower D2 density in the thalamus. The authors suggest that alterations in the D2 system, along with thalamic function, may provide a link between creativity and psychopathology. They end with postulating that: “decreased D2 receptor densities in the thalamus lower thalamic gating thresholds, thus increasing thalamocortical information flow.”