Does Cannabis increase creativity?

Facebooktwitterlinkedin

To answer the above questions, we must first address creativity; its definition, and its implications.

Creativity can be widely defined as the ability to produce work that is novel and meaningful, as opposed to trivial or bizarre [1].

Its physiological and biochemical manifestation, however, is far more complicated to define and assess.

Cognitive neuroscientists have attempted to optimally quantify creativity using psychometric approaches such as divergent thinking (DT) tests and remote associations tests (RAT) –which focus on the ability of an individual to generate creative ideas– and other, more personality-based tests, including the Creative Personality Scale (CPS) of the Gough Adjective Check List, aimed at separating the creative person from the creative product [2, 3, 4, 5].

Scientists universally agree creativity is difficult to gauge, as it is thought to arise from a multitude of neural processes exhibiting overlap with each other [5].

Such is the case for Divergent Thinking, where scores on DT tests have shown positive correlations with self-rated creativity, IQ, and several personality traits including Openness to Experience [6, 7].

 

What neurobiological pathways differentiate creative individuals?

Correlation has also been demonstrated between divergent and convergent thinking (CT) [8]. This correlation (and divergent thinking in itself) is thought to rely more heavily on personality traits, with curious, happier, more positive people generally performing better on DT tests.

DT is reciprocally leading to a more positive mood, and elevated dopamine levels, associated with reward as well as hallucinatory experiences or the legendary “artist madness” [9, 10, 11, 12].

All these findings indeed support the assertion that a relationship between creativity and dopamine (DA) exists, as previously claimed by a number of studies [12].

In many of these studies, creativity is considered to go hand-in-hand with activity of the D2 receptor, a G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) responding to neurotransmitter Dopamine with elevated expression in pathways such as the mesolimbic and mesostriatal pathways, both associated with drug reward [13, 14, 15, 16, 17].

Increased synaptic Dopamine release mediated by substances of abuse in these pathways could therefore potentially lead to increased creativity [18].

Here we will review all the scientific evidence on the effects of cannabis on creativity.

www.trendhunter.com creativity

The effects of Cannabis on creativity

One of the most extensively reviewed substance of abuse in relation to creativity is cannabis.

Cannabis was shown in one study [17] to enhance verbal creativity in regular cannabis users, and with relation to the Big Five Personality traits, they scored highest in Openness to Experience, a personality trait often interpreted as a proxy of creativity [18].

Similarly, another study with subjects who obtained low creativity scores when sober, when under the influence of cannabis, achieved verbal fluency similar to subjects who obtained higher creativity scores when sober, but also indicated that cannabis induced psychotic-like schizotypy [19].

However, in a separate study, cannabis users showed no development of schizotypy with respect to controls and displayed increased hyper-priming (ability to form connections between seemingly unrelated processes) [20].

Cannabis use has also shown to promote “rare-creative” responses and alpha wave activity (an electromagnetic brain wave activity associated with wakefulness and creativity) [21, 22].

Conversely, the best known component of Cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has also been demonstrated to lead to the diminishment of theta and fast-ripple waves, disrupting the synchronous firing of neurons, and negatively impacting on short-term memory generation and reconciliation, a subject cannabis is often criticised for [23].

Other areas of criticism include the extended consumption of naturally-smoked cannabis being associated with increased risk for the development of psychoses such as schizophrenia, an argument countered with lack of neurobiological evidence explaining the causative link and other studies suggesting that creative people are more prone to psychotic episodes independently of cannabis consumption [24, 25]

Ostensibly, the pieces of evidence supporting the beneficial effects of cannabis on creativity, are as many as the songs, poems, paintings produced by the effect of the plant.

Are you interested to delve deeper in the topic of creativity? Check out our next article “Are hallucinogenic substances increasing creativity”

 

Nature Going Smart - SupportDid you like this article?

This original content has been offered for free without advertisements thanks to our readers’ contributions. You, too, can support us in many ways. Check out how here! Thank you  

 

Copyright, Nature Going Smart. May not be re-printed without permission.

References

  1. STERNBERG, R. J. & LUBART, T. I. 2002. The Concept of Creativity: Prospects and Paradigms. In: STERNBERG R. J. (eds.). Handbook of Creativity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 3.
  2. RUNCO, M. 2010. Divergent thinking, creativity, and ideation. In: KAUFMAN, J. C. & STERNBERG, R. J. (eds). Cambridge Handbook of Creativity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 413–46.
  3. MEDNICK, S. A. 1962. The associative basis of the creative process. Psychol Rev., 69, 220–32.
  4. GOUGH, H. G. 1979. A Creative Personality Scale for the Adjective Check List. J Pers Soc Psychol., 37, 1398–1405.
  5. HENNESSEY, B. A. & AMABILE, T. M. 2010. Creativity. Annu Rev Psychol., 61, 569-98.
  6. DURSTEWITZ, D. & SEAMANS, J. K. 2008. The dual-state theory of prefrontal cortex dopamine function with relevance to catechol-o-methyltransferase genotypes and schizophrenia. Biol Psychiatry., 64, 739-49.
  7. CARSON, S. H., PETERSON, J. B. & HIGGINS, D. M. 2003. Decreased Latent Inhibition Is Associated With Increased Creative Achievement in High- Functioning Individuals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 499–506.
  8. COHEN, S. R. 1975. The Relationship between Convergent and Divergent Thinking in Science as Revealed in Sixth and Seventh Graders. he Journal of Educational Research, 68, 327-30.
  9. CAROL, W. & CAROL, T. 2008. Invitation to Psychology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson – Prentice Hall, 258.
  10. CHAMORRO-PREMUZIC, T. & REICHENBACHER, L. 2008. Effects of personality and threat of evaluation on divergent and convergent thinking. J Res Personal., 42, 1095-1101.
  11. CHERMAHINI, S. A. & HOMMEL, B. 2012. Creative mood swings: divergent and convergent thinking affect mood in opposite ways. Psychol Res., 76, 634-40.
  12. CHERMAHINI, S. A. & HOMMEL, B. 2010. The (b)link between creativity and dopamine: spontaneous eye blink rates predict and dissociate divergent and convergent thinking. Cognition, 115, 458-65.
  13. DE MANZANO, O., CERVENKA, S., KARABANOV, A., et al. 2010. Thinking outside a less intact box: thalamic dopamine D2 receptor densities are negatively related to psychometric creativity in healthy individuals. PLoS One., 5, e10670.
  14. FLORESCO, S. B. & MAGYAR, O. 2006. Mesocortical dopamine modulation of executive functions: beyond working memory. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 188, 567-85.
  15. MAWLAWI, O., MARTINEZ, D., SLIFSTEIN, M., et al. 2001. Imaging human mesolimbic dopamine transmission with positron emission tomography: I. Accuracy and precision of D(2) receptor parameter measurements in ventral striatum. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab., 21, 1034-57.
  16. MARTINEZ, D., SLIFSTEIN, M., BROFT, A., et al. 2003. Imaging human mesolimbic dopamine transmission with positron emission tomography. Part II: amphetamine-induced dopamine release in the functional subdivisions of the striatum. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab., 23, 285-300.
  17. BLIEM, B., UNTERRAINER, H. F., PAPOUSEK, I., et al. 2013. Creativity in cannabis-users and in drug addicts in maintenance treatment and in rehabilitation. Neuropsychiatr., [Epub ahead of print].
  18. KING, L., WALKER, L. & BROYLES, S. 1996. Ceativity and the Five-Factor Model. Journal of Research in Personality, 30, 189-203.
  19. SCHAFER, G., FEILDING, A., MORGAN, C. J., et al. 2012. Investigating the interaction between schizotypy, divergent thinking and cannabis use. Conscious Cogn., 21, 292-8.
  20. MORGAN, C. J., ROTHWELL, E., ATKINSON, H., et al. 2010. Hyper-priming in cannabis users: a naturalistic study of the effects of cannabis on semantic memory function. Psychiatry Res., 176, 213-8.
  21. ONES, K. A., BLAGROVE, M. & PARROTT, A. C. 2009. Cannabis and Ecstasy/ MDMA: empirical measures of creativity in recreational users. J Psychoactive Drugs., 41, 323-9.
  22. GRUZELIER, J. 2009. A theory of alpha/theta neurofeedback, creative performance enhancement, long distance functional connectivity and psychological integration. Cogn Process., 10, S101-9.
  23. MAIER, N., MORRIS, G., SCHUCHMANN, S., et al. 2012. Cannabinoids disrupt hippocampal sharp wave-ripples via inhibition of glutamate release. Hippocampus, 22, 1350-62.
  24. SHRIVASTAVA, A., JOHNSTON, M., TERPSTRA, K., et al. 2013. Pathways to Psychosis in Cannabis Abuse. Clin Schizophr Relat Psychoses., 14, 1-18.
  25. PRETI, A. & VELLANTE, M. 2007. Creativity and psychopathology: higher rates of psychosis proneness and nonright-handedness among creative artists compared to same age and gender peers. J Nerv Ment Dis., 195, 837-45.

Viola Brugnatelli

Viola Brugnatelli is a Neuroscientist specialised in Cannabinoid circuitry & GPCRs signalling. Her academy and research training let her gain extensive experience on medical cannabis and terpenes both from preclinical as well as clinical perspective. In her vision, collective human knowledge behold the power for overall improvement of life, thus, it should be accessible and shareable. Viola is Founder of the science online magazine Nature Going Smart, and works as a consultant for companies & individual patients, as a speaker at seminars and workshops and as a lecturer in a CME course on Medical Cannabis in Italy, at the University of Padua.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *