Do you (and some your like-minded neighbors) think that some of your family members are crazy? Well, if your answer is yes, researchers from Karolinska Institutet, Sweden have good news for you. Greater the degree of lunacy in your family (including yourself…), greater the chances of you, being creative. The new research conducted mentions, “High creative skills have been shown to be somewhat more common in people who have mental illness in the family.”
The study also mentions that creative people share certain psychological traits (e.g. ability to make bizarre associations) with schizophrenics due to Dopamine D2 receptor genes. Dr. Frederik Ullén and his research team basically studied the brain and the Dopamine D2 receptors. Dopamine receptor genes are linked to the ability for divergent thought. In the mentioned study, people who showed higher levels of creativity (divergent thinking) also showed a lower density of Dopamine D2 receptors in thalamus, which is also a trait commonly found among the schizophrenic. Thalamus (see the image) is that part of brain which filters and relays information before it reaches cortex, where cognition and reasoning take place. Lower density of D2 receptors means less filterning and a greater flow of information, which in turn increases the possibility of more bizarre associations and imaginations.
So if you’re crazy, you might be creative; and vice-versa!!! or in the words of Dr. Frederik Ullén, “Thinking outside the box might be facilitated by having a somewhat less intact box”.
de Manzano O, Cervenka S, Karabanov A, Farde L, & Ullén F (2010). Thinking outside a less intact box: thalamic dopamine D2 receptor densities are negatively related to psychometric creativity in healthy individuals. PloS one, 5 (5) PMID: 20498850