Neurobiologist James Fallon cited research that said individuals who suffer from bipolar disorder are most creative after coming out of a depression and headed towards mania or a neutral state.
As their mood improves, Fallon said, the frontal lobe of their brains showed increased activity that was very similar to when people have periods of extended creativity.
Mental health law professor at the University of Southern California Elyn Saks pointed out that people with psychosis are better able to simultaneously tap into their conscious and unconscious brains to contemplate ideas more abstractly than their counterparts who don’t have psychosis can do.
According to Saks, “I think the creativity is just one part of something that is mostly bad.” That’s an interesting way to think about it, and one that may have artists and great thinkers question how far they’re willing to go to pursue their passions.
When it comes to madness, scientists may also have found a specific gene that predisposes people to the life of a tortured artist.
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Studies suggest that the DARPP-32 gene, which three in four people inherit a specific version of, increases the processing capabilities of the brain’s prefrontal cortex, thus enhancing creativity.
Researchers also point out that however much society and culture may benefit from tortured artists and creative geniuses, these people themselves rarely feel that their suffering is worth the product during their lifetimes.
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