Academic journal article Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience

Creativity and Schizotypy from the Neuroscience Perspective

Academic journal article Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience

Creativity and Schizotypy from the Neuroscience Perspective

Article excerpt

Abstract Behavioral research has revealed that some cognitive features may be similar between creative and psychotic/ schizophrenic-like thoughts. In this study, we addressed the potential link between creativity and schizotypy at the level of the brain by investigating functional patterns of brain activity (using functional magnetic resonance imaging) during creative cognition in preselected groups with low versus high psychometrically determined schizotypy. Our findings revealed an association between the originality component of creativity and reduced deactivation of right parietal brain regions and the precuneus during creative cognition, congruent with the idea that more-creative people may include many more events/stimuli in their mental processes than do lesscreative people. Similarly, the high-schizotypy group showed weaker deactivation of the right precuneus during creative cognition. The fact that originality and schizotypy show similar functional brain activity patterns during creative ideation (i.e., reduced deactivation of the right precuneus) strongly supports the contention that similar mental processes may be implicated in creativity and in psychosis proneness.

Keywords FMRI . Creative ideation . Schizotypy . Originality

Research on the relationship between personality characteristics and creativity has a long tradition in psychology (Simonton, 2000). The profile of a creative individual is believed to include various "positive" traits-such as broad interests, attraction to complexity, or openness-but also less socially desirable traits-such as hostility or impulsivity (see, e.g., Eysenck, 1995; Feist, 1998;foradiscussionon"the dark side of creativity," see Cropley, 2010). The latter finding is certainly among the more "provocative" findings in this field, possibly unveiling a potential link between creativity and a certain degree of psychopathology (Simonton, 1999,p.315). The idea that at least some facets of the dark side of personality may be associated with creativity has received some support from Eysenck's psychoticism dimension (Eysenck, 1995), which has been observed to be substantially associated with various creativity-related demands, particularly with the originality facet of creativity (e.g., Abraham, Windmann, Daum, & Güntürkün, 2005; Acar & Runco, 2012; Fink, Slamar-Halbedl, Unterrainer, & Weiss, 2012). This finding has stimulated the idea that some cognitive styles may be similar between creative and psychotic- or schizophreniclike thoughts (Eysenck, 1995). Such common cognitive processes can be assumed in reduced cognitive inhibition (Green & Williams, 1999) or reduced latent inhibition, which refers to the capacity of the brain to screen out from conscious awareness events that were previously experienced as irrelevant (Carson, 2011; Carson, Peterson, & Higgins, 2003). In fact, some evidence from the behavioral research tradition has suggested that a heightened level of creativity is associated with attenuated latent inhibition (Carson et al., 2003; Fink, Slamar-Halbedl, et al., 2012), which has been interpreted in a manner that "creative individuals appear to be characterized in part by the ability to perceive and describe what remains hidden from the view of others" (Carson et al., 2003,p. 499). Carson (2011) even argued that creativity and psychopathology may share some "vulnerabilities," including cognitive disinhibition (allowing more stimuli to enter conscious awareness), preference for novelty, and neural hyperconnectivity (allowing for associations among distantly related stimuli). These vulnerabilities are thought to interact with "protective factors," such as high intelligence, working memory capacity, and cognitive flexibility, facilitating an enlargement of "the range and depth of stimuli available in conscious awareness to be manipulated and combined to form novel and original ideas" (Carson, 2011,p.144).

Motivated by the presumption that some cognitive styles may be similar between creative and psychotic- or schizophrenic-like thoughts, creativity has been related to different forms/symptoms of disorders on the schizotypy- schizophrenia continuum. …

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