Do creative people's brains look different?

The implications of the “two-brain” theory (right hemisphere/left hemisphere) have already been explored; particularly their use in branding people’s strengths and flaws. Various research has highlighted the importance of connections between the two hemispheres and has demonstrated that our personality can't be explained by our use of one or the other. A new study supports this point of view by showing that creative people have better brain connections.

The research conducted by two statisticians is supported by a study on neuroanatomy and creativity previously carried out by R. Jung and colleagues at the University of New Mexico. Using a special MRI technique, the team of neuroscientists was able to create 3D maps of the neural networks. In parallel, he measured the degree of creativity of a group of American students (average age 23.7). To do so, in addition to filling out a questionnaire about their skills in various domains (visual arts, music, cooking, dance, writing, etc.), the participants were given a series of tests, such as drawing as many geometric shapes as possible in 5 minutes or finding alternatives for everyday objects.

Then, Daniele Durante and David B. Dunson, from the University of Padua (Italy) and Duke (USA) respectively, studied the network of connections in the white matter (set of neural fibers that connect the different areas of the brain), via the movement of neurons in 67 distinct brain areas. How did they carry out the study? As statisticians, they were able to create algorithms capable of analyzing the connections and combine them with the participants’ creativity scores. This approach (which most often involves sharing neuroscientific data, as is the case here) is called connectomics, in other words the study of the mapping of the connectome (the set of all neural connections in the brain).

The results of the study, which appeared in Bayesian Analysis, show that white matter connections between the left and right hemispheres are much more extensive in highly creative people than in less creative people.

According to the authors, this method, connectomics, could help us better understand head injuries and comas, or even schizophrenia, leading to new therapeutic approaches.
Source: Durante, Daniele; Dunson, David B., “Bayesian Inference and Testing of Group Differences in Brain Networks”, in Bayesian Analysis, 15 November 2016. doi: 10.1214/16-BA1030.


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