Geddes points to work by Jung et al. that suggest an inverse correlation in human subjects between brain connectivity, reflected by the amount of the cortical myelin that sheathes nerve tracts (see the illustrations here), and creativity, assayed by a "composite creativity index." If less myelin corresponds to slower communication between regions of the brain, this could suggest that slowing down our brains makes them more creative:
That creativity and psychopathology are somehow linked remains a popular but controversial idea in neuroscience research. Brain regions implicated in both psychosis-proneness and creative cognition include frontal projection zones and association fibers. In normal subjects, we have previously demonstrated that a composite measure of divergent thinking (DT) ability exhibited significant inverse relationships in frontal lobe areas with both cortical thickness and metabolite concentration of N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA). These findings support the idea that creativity may reside upon a continuum with psychopathology. Here we examine whether white matter integrity, assessed by Fractional Anisotropy (FA), is related to two measures of creativity (Divergent Thinking and Openness to Experience). Based on previous findings, we hypothesize inverse correlations within fronto-striatal circuits. Seventy-two healthy, young adult (18–29 years) subjects were scanned on a 3 Tesla scanner with Diffusion Tensor Imaging. DT measures were scored by four raters (α = .81) using the Consensual Assessment Technique, from which a composite creativity index (CCI) was derived. We found that the CCI was significantly inversely related to FA within the left inferior frontal white matter (t = 5.36, p = .01), and Openness was inversely related to FA within the right inferior frontal white matter (t = 4.61, p = .04). These findings demonstrate an apparent overlap in specific white matter architecture underlying the normal variance of divergent thinking, openness, and psychotic-spectrum traits, consistent with the idea of a continuum.