Creativity and ADHD

I’m excited about exploring new domains in ADHD. I think one of the most promissing ones is creativity. 

In July 2018,  I was awarded the Dutch Veni grant from NWO. The project is called ‘Completing the picture on ADHD’.

Research in attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) thus far has almost exclusively focussed on deficits associated with this debilitating disorder. However, we cannot explain ADHD by only characterizing deficits. To move towards a complete picture, it is now high time to chart new territory. A promising new development in psychiatry is that of ‘excellence’ associated with psychiatric symptoms. For ADHD, there is high potential in exploring creativity. The reduced top-down control in the frontal cortex and increased bottom-up processing from the striatum, as seen in ADHD, are also observed during divergent thinking, a hallmark of creativity. In the general population, a link between ADHD symptoms and creativity has been found. However, the field of creativity research in ADHD is still very immature – large-scale clinical studies are entirely lacking, and there are no studies investigating direct links between the neurobiology of creativity and ADHD.

I lead a world-wide collaborative on ADHD neuroimaging and am a member of international consortia on cognition and genetics in ADHD. This gives me the unique opportunity to propose the following project: I will investigate associations of ADHD symptoms with creativity in clinical and population-based samples, study potential interactions with ADHD-relevant cognitive deficits, and identify etiological factors at brain and genetic levels. The outcomes of this study will contribute to the improvement of our understanding of ADHD and might have implications for education, treatment, and quality of life of patients.

I will try to give updates on the project here.

Currently, I’m working on the first outcomes of a population based sample. Here we are looking at Creative Achievements using the CAQ, and their neural correlates. I’m working together with Cognitive Neuroscience master student Clara Grabitz.

Please also see this news item from dec 2018.