Archive for Friday, May 21, 2010

Creative people’s brains similar to schizophrenics’ brains, study finds

May 21, 2010


Creative people may think broadly and make unusual associations because they, like schizophrenics, may be less able to filter out information, a Swedish study found.

Researchers at the Stockholm-based Karolinska Institute followed 13 healthy men and women who took creativity tests. The more solutions the participants found for a problem, the higher their creativity levels were. The researchers also studied images of the people’s brains.

The creative problem-solvers had a lower concentration of proteins that aid in the chemical transmission of information in the thalamus, the part of the brain that determines what data is relevant for reasoning, according to the study. That’s a trait commonly found in patients with schizophrenia, a mental illness whose symptoms include hallucinations, jumbled thoughts and paranoia.

“The question is how much is filtered away and how much does the thalamus allow to be put through” to the cortex, where reasoning takes place, said Fredrik Ullen, an associate professor at the institute, in a phone interview. “If you have more information in the cortex, you should be able to make more associations. You might see things that other people don’t.”

“We tend to think of psychiatric diseases as negative, as destructive,” he said. “But we can see that some traits or components of psychiatric disease may be useful.”

Researchers limited the number of study participants because of the high cost of taking brain images, Ullen said. The study was published in the journal PLoS One, a publication of the Public Library of Science, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization.


tange 3 years, 11 months ago

So long as it isn't debilitating, paranoid schizophrenia can be a real asset.

(not to be confused with a little donkey)


verity 3 years, 11 months ago

Reading this story and some of the comments also reminded me of an article that I read 35-40 years ago. At that time the general consensus was that our brains filtered out about 70 percent of the stimuli coming into it. The author's theory was that LSD blocked the filters and allowed about 70 percent of the stimuli through. I don't think he had any proof of this, just that it might be true. In light of this experiment, sounds like he might have had something there.

I'm with Jaylee---"I think someday the schizophrenics who can control and manually filter the information to whatever degree will rule the world!"

And I'm going to try to follow Lewis Carroll's example---thanks, Cappy, for that quote.


whats_going_on 3 years, 11 months ago

ok this is a little off topic, but this story made me think of this article on here.


denak 3 years, 11 months ago

I think what the article says is a very real possiblity. If you look throughout history, a l ot of the most talented and creative people out there had mental illnesses. I think definitely it has something to do with how it is all filtered.

As for kids with ADHD, I somewhat disagree with some of the posters. I do think we are too quick to label our kids and to suggest medications but I have seen a lot of kids who truly need medications even to function. But I think most of the time, medication is only a third of the way to combat the "problem." The child also needs therapy as well as the adults in his or her life need to learn parenting skills that work for a child with these issues in a way that is healthy and constructive. And that includes teachers. Some of these problems would go away if we had class sizes that were smaller, more free time for our kids to just be kids and a realistic set of boundaries in place.



Paul R Getto 3 years, 11 months ago

Interesting comments. As society 'progressed' and we crowded closer and closer together, it seems to me we narrowed the range of acceptability. As medicine 'improved' we found new drugs that would make people at least act quiet and leave others alone. Creativity and genius and eccentricity are, it appears, closely related. While it's a slightly different topic, I agree with other posters above. We are drugging our little boys into submission for the convenience of parents and teachers. Not all the 'cures' are right and we frankly have no idea what is going on in 'active' kids' brains. We just want them to shut up. Is is possible we are breeding and drugging some of the creativity out of our species?


autie 3 years, 11 months ago

I always considered myself a creavtive schzophrenic....


Kirk Larson 3 years, 11 months ago

Reminds me of Lewis Carrol who said, "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."


consumer1 3 years, 11 months ago

Sorry I couldn't follow this story, I kept wandering off topic.


Jaylee 3 years, 11 months ago

I think someday the schizophrenics who can control and manually filter the information to whatever degree will rule the world!


verity 3 years, 11 months ago

This article is very interesting and fits in with some other things I have read.

Well said, Multi. I think that everything else should be tried before drugs are used in any situation, especially when dealing with children. Creativity comes from absorbing everything you can and putting it together in different ways. It comes from not being afraid to be different, not accepting the status quo just because that is the way things are done. Obviously one needs to be able to fit into society, but society could often be a bit less judgmental of those who are different.

And drugs can cause permanent and often unwanted side effects.

Possibly (and this of course is my opinion only) the main difference between schizophrenics and other people is the ability to harness the processes and information and use them productively.


Robert Rauktis 3 years, 11 months ago

ADHD isn't the same as schizophrenia. Not even hand grenade range. Comparing apples and rocks as they're both round.


Multidisciplinary 3 years, 11 months ago

And John Nash. And a whole lot of the kids they have been drugging for ADHD, etc, because 'they can't concentrate'. Leave the kids alone. Learn how to deal with their needs and teach them accordingly, don't drug them! It's funny, I used to compare the kids in class with similar hyperactive thought processes, that would go off on tangents, rapid speech, certain annoying personalities. If they were getting very good grades, this was acceptable. If they were not, they were the bad kids, trouble makers. Similar brains, perhaps just different 'environments' guiding that creativity?


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