Odd Behavior and Creativity May Go Hand-in-hand
Often viewed as a hindrance, having a quirky or socially awkward approach to lifemay be the key to becoming a great artist, composer or inventor.
New research on individuals with schizotypal personalities, people characterized by odd behavior and language but who are not psychotic or schizophrenic, offers the first neurological evidence that they are more creative than either normal or fully schizophrenic individuals, and rely more heavily on the right sides of their brains than the general population to access their creativity.
The work by Vanderbilt psychologists Brad Folley and Sohee Park was published online last week by the journal Schizophrenia Research.
"The idea that schizotypes have enhanced creativity has been out there for a long time but no one has investigated the behavioral manifestations and their neural correlates experimentally," Folley says. "Our paper is unique because we investigated the creative process experimentally and we also looked at the blood flow in the brain while research subjects were undergoing creative tasks."
Folley and Park conducted two experiments to compare the creative thinking processes of schizotypes, schizophrenics and normal control subjects. In the first experiment, the researchers showed research subjects a variety of household objects and asked them to make up new functions for them. The results showed that the schizotypes were better able to creatively suggest new uses for the objects, while the schizophrenics and average subjects performed similarly to one another.
"Thought processes for individuals with schizophrenia are often very disorganized, almost to the point where they can