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October 25, 2006

Creative people or creative brains?

A review of the book "The Creating Brain: the Neuroscience of Genius" by the well-known psychiatry researcher Nancy Andreason was recently published in the UK medical journal "The Lancet".

In the review Steven Rose notes that Dr. Andreason is "one of the developers of the US psychiatrists' bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and the author of some accessible books on the neuroscience of mental illness. Now, in keeping with the neurosciences' onward march into territory previously regarded as outside their terrain of competence, Andreasen has turned her attention from the mentally distressed to the mentally super-productive. What constitutes creativity, and what can neuroscience say about it?"

"Andreasen reviews the early anecdotal and more systematic studies, before turning to her own surveys of the psychiatric status of members of an Iowa writers' workshop. Here she found mood disorders (such as bipolar disorder) were fairly common but there was no sign of schizophrenia. This finding, and the other studies she cites, satisfactorily refutes the attempts by Tim Crow, Daniel Nettle, and others in recent years to claim schizophrenia as the genetic downside of an evolutionary drive towards creativity."

The review concludes with the statement "for those interested in this subject or for parents who aspire for the best for their offspring and want some encouragement in how to achieve it, The Creating Brain makes an enjoyable read."

The book can be purchased at Amazon and other book stores: The Creating Brain: the Neuroscience of Genius


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