In a study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience researchers have showed that the genetic components of creativity may be connected with those of a series of psychiatric disorders. So the tiny common genetic mutations which make some people more creative could play an important role in mental conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
For the study researchers analyzed the genetic material of more than 86.000 individuals from Iceland. They identified genetic variants which were connected with an enhanced risk of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Afterwards the researchers looked at those variants in a group of more than 1.000 who were part of national societies of artists. The members of such societies included writers, musicians, dancers, actors and visual artists.
Their DNA signature of all the participants in the study was found to be linked to a doubled risk of developing schizophrenia and a one-third increase risk of developing bipolar disorder. Afterwards when looking at the data regarding the persons involved in artistic endeavors the scientists noted that artists were 17% more likely to have that genetic signature when compared with participants which were not part of artist societies.
The lead author of the study CEO of the genomic analysis company deCODE, Kari Stefansson, declared:
“The results of this study should not have come as a surprise, because to be creative, you have to think differently from the crowd. And we had previously shown that carriers of genetic factors that predispose to schizophrenia do so.”
Previous studies conducted in Netherlands and Sweden also proved that when compared to the DNA signatures of the general public people involved in artistic occupations tend to have the same genetic changes. Kari Stefansson explained that genetic mutations which increased the risk of developing mental illnesses are linked with the benefits which they provide. According to Stefansson genetic mutations are common in all people because in the past they offered some reproductive advantage.
Experts suggest that researchers should be cautious before assuming that there is a direct genetic link between creativity and mental conditions. For example psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman from the University of Pennsylvania said that a particular set of genes can only explain a very tiny part of variation in whatever psychological trait. According to him there are many other factors which can influence whether a person is creative and schizophrenic such as the environment and what a person experiences throughout life.
So the study only presents a statistical association, not a cause and effect situation.
Image Source: Click Hole