Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Genetic risk factors for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia predict creativity.

As a follow up to my June 30 post on creativity and neurosis, I wanted to point to the following account by Power et al. (Numerous epidemiological studies have demonstrated overlap between psychiatric disorders and creativity, suggesting that creative genius and insanity are characterized by similar unleashing of thoughts and emotions.)
We tested whether polygenic risk scores for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder would predict creativity. Higher scores were associated with artistic society membership or creative profession in both Icelandic (P = 5.2 × 10−6 and 3.8 × 10−6 for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder scores, respectively) and replication cohorts (P = 0.0021 and 0.00086). This could not be accounted for by increased relatedness between creative individuals and those with psychoses, indicating that creativity and psychosis share genetic roots.
From the review by Keller and Visscher:
They used a large discovery sample of 86,292 adults from Iceland and four replication samples totaling over 27,000 adults from Sweden and the Netherlands. All had genome-wide SNP genotyping and their professions were known. None of them knowingly suffered from a psychiatric illness. About 1% of them were artists, including actors, dancers, musicians and writers. The authors piggy-backed on recent large genome-wide association studies (GWASs) conducted on SCZ (Schizophrenia) and BD (bipolar disorder) patients and controls, and used the estimated effect on risk of SCZ and BD from thousands of SNP variants that were associated with either SCZ or BD. They then used the observed genotypes in the healthy people from Iceland, Sweden and the Netherlands and predicted a genetic risk score—the sum of associated risk alleles weighted by their estimated effect sizes. Power et al. found that people at higher genetic risk for SCZ or BD had a higher probability of being employed as an artist or belonging to an artists' union.

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