ABSTRACT: Creativity is a complex human ability influenced by affective and cognitive components but little is known about its underlying neurobiology. Bipolar Disorder (BD) is highly prevalent among creative individuals. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is the most widely distributed neurotrophic factor, and has been implicated in the pathophysiology of BD. In contrast to the better functioning of the BDNF polymorphism (Val(66)Met) Val allele, the Met allele decreases BDNF transport and has been associated with worsened performance on several cognitive domains in euthymic BD subjects and controls. We hypothesized that the Val allele is associated with increased creativity in bipolar disorder.
Sixty-six subjects with BD (41 in manic and 25 in depressive episodes) and 78 healthy volunteers were genotyped for BDNF Val(66)Met and tested for creativity using the Barrow Welsh Art Scale (BWAS) and neuropsychological tests.
Manic patients with the Val allele (Met-) had higher BWAS scores than Met+ carriers. This relationship was not observed among patients in depressive episodes or among control subjects. BDNF Met allele status showed no association with cognitive function in any of the groups.
As postulated, these findings suggest that the better functioning allele of BDNF may selectively facilitate creative thinking in subjects with manic episodes, but not in controls or depressives. Further studies exploring the role of BDNF in the neurobiology of creativity in BD and in euthymic phases are warranted.
Journal of affective disorders 04/2012; 139(2):181-6. · 3.76 Impact Factor