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The (b)link between creativity and dopamine: Spontaneous eye blink rates predict and dissociate divergent and convergent thinking

Cognition 115(3):458 (2010) PMID 20334856

Human creativity has been claimed to rely on the neurotransmitter dopamine, but evidence is still sparse. We studied whether individual performance ( N = 117) in divergent thinking (alternative uses task) and convergent thinking (remote association task) can be predicted by the individual spontaneous eye blink rate (EBR), a clinical marker of dopaminergic functioning. EBR predicted flexibility in divergent thinking and convergent thinking, but in different ways. The relationship with flexibility was independent of intelligence and followed an inverted U-shape function with medium EBR being associated with greatest flexibility. Convergent thinking was positively correlated with intelligence but negatively correlated with EBR, suggesting that higher dopamine levels impair convergent thinking. These findings support the claim that creativity and dopamine are related, but they also call for more conceptual differentiation with respect to the processes involved in creative performance.

DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2010.03.007