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Is Creativity Written in Your Genes?

Posted on 4th July 2016

creative genes

Art in all its glorious forms conveys a message or tells a story about human experience. Throughout the ages, artists have produced beautiful paintings, brilliant books and music. Understandably, some have left a lasting impression on audiences and inspired fellow artists. The prominence of such art has raised the question: Are you born an artist or do you become one? Many people have come to the conclusion that both nature and nurture play an equal part. However, recent research suggests that the biologic basis for creative thinking may be stronger than first thought.

What Exactly Is Creativity?

Creativity by definition is to use one's original ideas or imagination to make something. Whether your craft is photography, painting, design, poetry, producing digital products, sketching, fonts or any other form of art, then it's highly likely that you think outside the box. Divergent thinking and generating countless associations are a natural part of the creative processes. Creative folk often have a different way of looking at the world, and it's this characteristic that contributes to them being able to produce interesting, unique forms of art that can go viral.

The Right Environment

Of course, the right environment is crucial for artistic ability to flourish. It can take years of practice to hone your techniques and develop all the necessary skills to make it as an artist. But what if someone doesn't really have any creative talent, could they acquire it through practice? Malcolm Gladwell, the author of "The Tipping Point," suggests that it takes 10,000 hours of study to become a master of any field. This philosophy certainly gives hope to those people who want to become an expert in their chosen area of study. However, most people would only invest this much time in a subject where they have some natural ability.

The Genetic Basis for Creativity

A team of researchers at Cornell University discovered that the brain structure of artistic individuals differs from regular brains. They found that creative people have a smaller corpus callosum, which is the fine tissues connecting the two cerebral hemispheres. It is believed that this plays a part in the development of creative ideas because both hemispheres can become specialized.

In addition, there is further evidence to suggest that creativity is influenced by genes. Finnish scientists noticed that highly creative individuals had duplicate strands of DNA that are responsible for processing serotonin. This neurotransmitter is mainly involved in the regulation of sleep patterns, sexual arousal and body temperature. It's also thought that increased levels of serotonin in the brain improves connectivity to the posterior cingulate cortex, which is a part of the brain that is associated with awareness and enhanced internal thought. This could explain why artists are generally good at coming up with ideas.

Science and Creativity

The creative processes aren't just necessary for those who do art; they are also required for other groups, such as scientists and engineers. In the words of Albert Einstein, "Imagination is more important than knowledge!'' Before a problem can be solved practically, first it has to be imagined in the mind's eye. Turning a vision into a work of art, or even an equation, like Einstein did with his theory of relativity, shows how important the imagination is. After all, science and the arts are not two subjects that are worlds apart. In fact, they are very much intertwined.

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