Creativity and Mental Illness Linked

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute may have found an explanation to the link between creativity and mental health problems. By studing a certain type of receptors, so called dopamin D2-receptors, the researchers have been able to show that the dopamin-system of healthy and highly creative people in parts resemble that of schizophrenics.

Those taking part in the study were given tests where they were supposed to find as many solutions as possible. Those who came up with more creative solutions were shown to have fewer D2-receptors in a part of the brain called thalamus, which is also the case of people with schizophrenia.

Less creative people have a higher number of these receptors.

The researchers believe that fewer D2-receptors mean that less information is filtered out when the signals pass through the thalamus. This could explain the ability to see unusual connections when solving problems and some of the bizarre associations that mentally ill people sometimes make.