‘Creativity chemical’ in the brain biased towards smarter people

May 21st, 2009 - 4:20 pm ICT by ANI  

London, May 21 (ANI): High levels of a so-called “creativity chemical” in a certain part of the brain is what boosts creativity in smart people, revealed a study.

People with average intelligence, on the other hand, are less ingenious because of low levels of the same chemical.

N-acetyl-aspartate, which is found in neurons, is apparently linked with neural health and metabolism.

Already, Rex Jung at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and his colleagues knew that high levels of NAA in the left parieto-occipital lobe, which coordinates sensory and visual information, were linked with intelligence.

In order to know whether NAA also plays a role in creativity, the researchers recruited 56 men and women aged 18 to 39, and measured the NAA levels in various regions of their brains.

The researchers also tested the volunteers’ general intelligence and, more specifically, their capacity for divergent thinking-a factor in creativity that includes coming up with novel ideas, such as new uses for everyday objects.

On the whole, volunteers’ creativity scores were concurrent with levels of NAA in a brain region called the anterior cingulate gyrus (ACG), which regulates the activity of the frontal cortex - implicated in higher mental functions.

However, while low levels of NAA in the ACG correlated with high creativity in people of average intelligence, the reverse was found to be true in people with IQs of above 120.

Jung predicted that if there is less NAA to regulate frontal cortex activity in “average” brains, they are freer to roam and find new ideas.

However, in highly intelligent people, tighter control over the frontal cortex could apparently enhance creativity.

This could be because they are more likely to come up with new ideas anyway, and the tighter control allows them to “fine-tune” that ability.

“People say you have to let your mind wonder freely to be creative. For people of average intelligence, perhaps it’s true that you need to utilise more areas of your [frontal cortex] for something truly novel and creative to emerge, but in more intelligent folks, there’s something different going on,” New Scientist magazine quoted Jung as saying.

In his opinion, the findings could shed new light on what made the brains of creative geniuses like Einstein tick. (ANI)

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