London, July 17 (ANI): A genetic mutation linked to psychosis and schizophrenia plays a major role in determining if a person is creative or not, claims a new study.
The research, by Szabolcs Keri, a researcher at Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary, could help to explain why mutations that increase a person’s risk of developing mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar syndrome have been preserved, even preferred, during human evolution.
For the study, the researchers examined a gene involved in brain development called neuregulin 1, which previous studies have linked to a slightly increased risk of schizophrenia.
In addition, a single DNA letter mutation that affects how much of the neuregulin 1 protein is made in the brain has been linked to psychosis, poor memory and sensitivity to criticism.
About 50 per cent of healthy Europeans have one copy of this mutation, while 15 per cent possess two copies.
In order to find out how these variations affect creativity, the researchers genotyped 200 adults who responded to adverts seeking creative and accomplished volunteers.
He also gave the volunteers two tests of creative thinking, and devised an objective score of their creative achievements, such as filing a patent or writing a book.
It was found that people with two copies of the neuregulin 1 mutation – about 12 per cent of the study participants – tended to score notably higher on these measures of creativity, compared with other volunteers with one or no copy of the mutation.
Besides, people with one copy were also found to be more creative, on average, than volunteers without the mutation.
Keri said that the mutation explained between 3 and 8 per cent of the differences in creativity.
But, researchers have no idea how exactly neuregulin 1 affects creativity.
While the mutation’s connection to mental illness could not entirely explain its link to creativity, Keri said speculated that the mutation dampens a brain region that reins in mood and behaviour, called the prefrontal cortex.
This change could unleash creative potential in some people and psychotic delusions in others.
In fact, the researchers found that intelligence could be one factor that determines whether the neuregulin 1 mutation boosts creativity or contributes to psychosis.
“My clinical experience is that high-IQ people with psychosis have more intellectual capacity to deal with psychotic experiences. It’s not enough to experience those feelings, you have to communicate them,” New Scientist quoted Keri as saying.
But, the findings do not translate that psychosis and creativity are the same.
The study has been published in the journal Psychological Science. (ANI)