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Exploring the link between addiction and creativity

In response to the recent news about the death of Grammy-winning singer Amy Winehouse, Scientific American recently posted an interesting Q&A with Johns Hopkins University neuroscientist David Linden, PhD, about the potential connection between addiction and creativity. As the conversation unfolds, Linden explains how genetics and environment can impact a person's risk of becoming an addict and the role of stress in triggering addiction.

On the topic of being genetically predisposed to addiction he says:

Genetic variants make for a low-functioning dopamine system, specifically D2 receptors. If you carry those variants, you are more likely to be more risk-taking, novelty-seeking and compulsive. None of which are explicitly creative, but they are things that get to creativity. So novelty-seeking might be a spur to creativity. Risk-taking might lead you to go more out on a limb. If you're compulsive, you might be more motivated to get your art, science idea or novel out into the world. These traits that come from having low dopamine function have an upside. These traits can contribute to people having great success in the world, like business leaders.

Genetics is 40 percent, it's not 100 percent—it's not the whole show. It's possible to carry the variants and not be an addict, and it's possible to not carry the variants and still be an addict.

The full Q&A is quick read and well worth your time.

Previously: Prescription drug addiction: How the epidemic is shaking up the policy world, Booze, food more enjoyable to some, possibly predicting risky behavior and How to combat prescription-drug abuse

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