London, June 10 (IANS) Genes linked to creativity could also increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, according to a new study conducted by researchers at King’s College London.
Previous studies have shown that psychiatric disorders, particularly bipolar disorder, tend to be found in the same families where creative professions are common. However, until now it had not been possible to pinpoint whether this was simply due to shared environmental factors or socio-economic status.
In this study, researchers examined the genetic risk scores for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder of 86,292 individuals from the general population of Iceland, based on the data provide by deCODE Genetics, Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.
They found that genetic risk scores for both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder were significantly higher in those defined as creative individuals, with scores approximately halfway between the general population and those with the disorders themselves.
Creative individuals were defined as those belonging to the national artistic societies of actors, dancers, musicians, visual artists and writers in this study.
Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are disorders of thoughts and emotions, which means that those affected show alterations in cognitive and emotional processing.
These findings lend support to the direct influence of genetic factors on creativity, as opposed to the effect of sharing an environment with individuals who have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
It suggests that creative people may have a genetic predisposition towards thinking differently which, when combined with other harmful biological or environmental factors, could lead to mental illness, said Robert Power, first author of the research paper.
The paper has been published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.