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Link Between Creativity and Mental Illness Revealed

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Creativity linked to mental health. New research shows a possible explanation for the link between mental health and creativity. By studying receptors in the brain, researchers at Karolinska Institutet have managed to show that the dopamine system in healthy, highly creative people is similar in some respects to that seen in people with schizophrenia.High creative skills have been shown to be somewhat more common in people who have mental illness in the family. Creativity is also linked to a slightly higher risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Certain psychological traits, such as the ability to make unusual pr bizarre associations are also shared by schizophrenics and healthy, highly creative people. And now the correlation between creativity and mental health has scientific backing. “We have studied the brain and the dopamine D2 receptors, and have shown that the dopamine system of healthy, highly creative people is similar to that found in people with schizophrenia,” says associate professor Fredrik Ullén from Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Woman and Child Health. Just which brain mechanisms are responsible for this correlation is still something of a mystery, but Dr Ullén conjectures that

the function of systems in the brain that use dopamine is significant; for example, studies have shown that dopamine receptor genes are linked to ability for divergent thought. Dr Ullén’s study measured the creativity of healthy individuals using divergent psychological tests, in which the task was to find many different solutions to a problem. “The study shows that highly creative people who did well on the divergent tests had a lower density of D2 receptors in the thalamus than less creative people,” says Dr Ullén. “Schizophrenics are also known to have low D2 density in this part of the brain, suggesting a cause of the link between mental illness and creativity.” The thalamus serves as a kind of relay centre, filtering information before it reaches areas of the cortex, which is responsible, amongst other things, for cognition and reasoning. “Fewer D2 receptors in the thalamus probably means a lower degree of signal filtering, and thus a higher flow of information from the thalamus,” says Dr Ullén, and explains that this could a possible mechanism behind the ability of healthy highly creative people to see numerous uncommon connections in a problem-solving situation and the bizarre associations found in the mentally ill. “Thinking outside the box might be facilitated by having a somewhat less intact box,” says Dr Ullén about his new findings. Fredrik Ullén; I am a university lecturer and associate professor at Karolinska Institutet within the Stockholm Brain Institute center.

My research group investigates neural mechanisms of expert performance. Deliberate practice is the best predictor of expertise in any domain and a main research line concerns motor skill learning, in particularly rhythmic skills, and effects of long-term training. Another major line addresses creativity in expertise, where we use musical improvisation as a model behavior. We also investigate the biological basis of traits of importance for high-level expertise, in particular general intelligence and certain personality traits. Finally, we are interested in the physiological basis of flow states and the importance of flow proneness for expertise. Specialties: Neurobiology of expertise and individual differences. news from: ki.se  ~ Creativity is a mental process involving the discovery of new ideas or concepts, or new associations of the existing ideas or concepts, fueled by the process of either conscious or unconscious insight. From a scientific point of view, the products of creative thought (sometimes referred to as divergent thought) are usually considered to have both originality and appropriateness. Although intuitively a simple phenomenon, it is in fact quite complex. It has been studied from the perspectives of behavioural psychology, social psychology, psychometrics, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, philosophy, aesthetics, history, economics, design research, business, and management, among others. The studies

have covered everyday creativity, exceptional creativity and even artificial creativity. Unlike many phenomena in science, there is no single, authoritative perspective or definition of creativity. And unlike many phenomena in psychology, there is no standardized measurement technique.Creativity has been attributed variously to divine intervention, cognitive processes, the social environment, personality traits, and chance (“accident”, “serendipity”). It has been associated with genius, mental illness, humour and REM sleep. Some say it is a trait we are born with; others say it can be taught with the application of simple techniques. Creativity has also been viewed as a beneficence of a muse or Muses. Although popularly associated with art and literature, it is also an essential part of innovation and invention and is important in professions such as business, economics, architecture, industrial design, graphic design, advertising, mathematics, music, science and engineering, and teaching.Despite, or perhaps because of, the ambiguity and multi-dimensional nature of creativity, entire industries have been spawned from the pursuit of creative ideas and the development of creativity techniques. Creativity has been associated with right or forehead brain activity or even specifically with lateral thinking. Some students of creativity have emphasized an element of chance in the creative process. Linus Pauling, asked at a public lecture how one creates scientific theories, replied that one must endeavor to

come up with many ideas — then discard the useless ones. Another adequate definition of creativity, according to Otto Rank, is that it is an “assumptions-breaking process.” Creative ideas are often generated when one discards preconceived assumptions and attempts a new approach or method that might seem to others unthinkable.It is often useful to explicitly distinguish between creativity and innovation. Creativity is typically used to refer to the act of producing new ideas, approaches or actions, while innovation is the process of both generating and applying such creative ideas in some specific context. In the context of an organization, therefore, the term innovation is often used to refer to the entire process by which an organization generates creative new ideas and converts them into novel, useful and viable commercial products, services, and business practices, while the term creativity is reserved to apply specifically to the generation of novel ideas by individuals or groups, as a necessary step within the innovation process. or example, Amabile et al. (1996) suggest that while innovation “begins with creative ideas,” “…creativity by individuals and teams is a starting point for innovation; the first is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the second.” Although the two words are novel, they go hand in hand. In order to be innovative, employees have to be creative to stay competitive. Fostering creativity Daniel Pink, in his 2005 book A Whole New Mind, repeating arguments posed throughout the 20th century, argues that we are

entering a new age where creativity is becoming increasingly important. In this conceptual age, we will need to foster and encourage right-directed thinking (representing creativity and emotion) over left-directed thinking (representing logical, analytical thought). Nickerson provides a summary of the various creativity techniques that have been proposed. These include approaches that have been developed by both academia and industry: 1. Establishing purpose and intention 2. Building basic skills 3. Encouraging acquisitions of domain-specific knowledge 4. Stimulating and rewarding curiosity and exploration 5. Building motivation, especially internal motivation 6. Encouraging confidence and a willingness to take risks 7. Focusing on mastery and self-competition 8. Promoting supportable beliefs about creativity 9. Providing opportunities for choice and discovery 10. Developing self-management (metacognitive skills) 11. Teaching techniques and strategies for facilitating creative performance 12. Providing balance. Some see the conventional system of schooling as “stifling” of creativity and attempt (particularly in the pre-school/kindergarten and early school years) to provide a creativity-friendly, rich, imagination-fostering environment for young children. Compare Waldorf School. A growing number of psychologists are supporting the idea that there are methods of increasing the creativity of an individual. ~ GoodNews International Edition


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