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Can J Psychiatry. 2011 Mar;56(3):132-43.

Brain illness and creativity: mechanisms and treatment risks.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. aflaherty@partners.org

Abstract

Brain diseases and their treatment may help or hurt creativity in ways that shape quality of life. Increased creative drive is associated with bipolar disorder, depression, psychosis, temporal lobe epilepsy, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson disease treatments, and autism. Creativity depends on goal-driven approach motivation from midbrain dopaminergic systems. Fear-driven avoidance motivation is of less aid to creativity. When serotonin and norepinephrine lower motivation and flexible behaviour, they can inhibit creativity. Hemispheric lateralization and frontotemporal connections must interact to create new ideas and conceptual schemes. The right brain and temporal lobe contribute skill in novelty detection, while the left brain and frontal lobe foster approach motivation and more easily generate new patterns of action from the novel perceptions. Genes and phenotypes that increase plasticity and creativity in tolerant environments with relaxed selection pressure may confer risk in rigorous environments. Few papers substantively address this important but fraught topic. Antidepressants (ADs) that inhibit fear-driven motivation, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, sometimes inhibit goal-oriented motivation as well. ADs that boost goal-directed motivation, such as bupropion, may remediate this effect. Benzodiazepines and alcohol may be counterproductive. Although dopaminergic agonists sometimes stimulate creativity, their doing so may inappropriately disinhibit behaviour. Dopamine antagonists may suppress creative motivation; lithium and anticonvulsant mood stabilizers may do so less. Physical exercise and REM sleep may help creativity. Art therapy and psychotherapy are not well studied. Preserving creative motivation can help creativity and other aspects of well-being in all patients, not just artists or researchers.

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PMID:
21443820
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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