Article

Biochemical support for the "threshold" theory of creativity: a magnetic resonance spectroscopy study.

The Mind Research Network, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131, USA.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 6.75). 05/2009; 29(16):5319-25. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0588-09.2009
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A broadly accepted definition of creativity refers to the production of something both novel and useful within a given social context. Studies of patients with neurological and psychiatric disorders and neuroimaging studies of healthy controls have each drawn attention to frontal and temporal lobe contributions to creativity. Based on previous magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy studies demonstrating relationships between cognitive ability and concentrations of N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA), a common neurometabolite, we hypothesized that NAA assessed in gray and white matter (from a supraventricular slab) would relate to laboratory measures of creativity. MR imaging and divergent thinking measures were obtained in a cohort of 56 healthy controls. Independent judges ranked the creative products of each participant, from which a "Composite Creativity Index" (CCI) was created. Different patterns of correlations between NAA and CCI were found in higher verbal ability versus lower verbal ability participants, providing neurobiological support for a critical "threshold" regarding the relationship between intelligence and creativity. To our knowledge, this is the first report assessing the relationship between brain chemistry and creative cognition, as measured with divergent thinking, in a cohort comprised exclusively of normal, healthy participants.

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