Debate: Is there a link between ADHD and Creativity?


The Cre­ative Gifts of ADHD (Sci­Am Beau­ti­ful Minds blog):

In his 2004 book “Cre­ativ­i­ty is For­ev­er“, Gary Davis reviewed the cre­ativ­i­ty lit­er­a­ture from 1961 to 2003 and iden­ti­fied 22 reoc­cur­ring per­son­al­i­ty traits of cre­ative people…In her own review of the cre­ativ­i­ty lit­er­a­ture, Bon­nie Cra­mond found that many of these same traits over­lap to a sub­stan­tial degree with behav­ioral descrip­tions of Atten­tion Deficit Hyper­ac­tive Dis­or­der (ADHD)– includ­ing high­er lev­els of spon­ta­neous idea gen­er­a­tion, mind wan­der­ing, day­dream­ing, sen­sa­tion seek­ing, ener­gy, and impulsivity…

Recent work in cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science also sug­gests a con­nec­tion between ADHD and creativity…Both cre­ative thinkers and peo­ple with ADHD show dif­fi­cul­ty sup­press­ing brain activ­i­ty com­ing from the “Imag­i­na­tion Net­work“ (note: shown above)…This obvi­ous­ly has some impor­tant edu­ca­tion­al implications…“in the school set­ting, the chal­lenge becomes how to cre­ate an envi­ron­ment in which cre­ativ­i­ty is empha­sized as a path­way to learn­ing as well as an out­come of learning.”

Response by researcher Rus­sell Barkley (left as a com­ment to blog post):

Despite repeat­ed assertions…the entire body of evi­dence avail­able on any link of ADHD with increased cre­ativ­i­ty does not sup­port such a link. What it does show is that peo­ple with ADHD range across the entire spec­trum of cre­ativ­i­ty, var­i­ous­ly mea­sured, as does the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion. But there is no sig­nif­i­cant cor­re­la­tion between ADHD or its symp­tom sever­i­ty and increased creativity…Yes, some­what low­er lev­els of men­tal inhi­bi­tion have a small but sig­nif­i­cant asso­ci­a­tion with gen­er­at­ing a wider diver­si­ty of ideas but this refers to rather small decreas­es in inhi­bi­tion in typ­i­cal pop­u­la­tion, not to clin­i­cal­ly severe lev­els of impul­siv­i­ty as seen in ADHD…By all means, let us cel­e­brate, encour­age, and sup­port the tal­ents of indi­vid­u­als but let us not roman­ti­cize them as aris­ing from a seri­ous neu­rode­vel­op­men­tal dis­or­der such as ADHD.”

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SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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