Scimex: An international study has found a genetic link between people with psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and artistic individuals. The authors found the same genes that predicted an increased risk in having the disorders, could also predict whether someone had an artistic profession or was part of an artistic society, and the link couldn't be explained by IQ differences or being related to someone with psychosis. Creativity and psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, share genetic roots, suggests a study published online this week in Nature Neuroscience. For the purposes of the study, creative individuals were defined as those belonging to national artistic societies or having an artistic profession.
Epidemiological studies show that relatives of those with schizophrenia
or bipolar disorder are over-represented in creative professions. It is
unclear, however, whether this association is a result of shared
genetics or common environmental influences.
Kari Stefansson and colleagues utilized genetic data from large studies
involving over 150,000 individuals that were healthy, or diagnosed with
schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. They found that the genetic variants
associated with increased disease risk in those studies also predicted
disease risk in a separate population of 86,292 individuals from
Iceland. These same genetic variants also predicted whether Icelanders,
free from any psychiatric diagnoses, were members of the Icelandic
national artistic societies of actors, dancers, musicians, visual
artists and writers.
The authors then found that these same genetic variants predicted
whether individuals in separate groups of 8,893 people from Sweden and
18,452 people from the Netherlands were employed in creative
professions. This relationship in all groups could not be accounted for
by differences in IQ, educational attainment or how closely an
individual was related to someone with schizophrenia or bipolar
disorder. Thus, genetic factors that increase the propensity for certain
mental illnesses may also influence the creative aptitude of unrelated,