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Creative people suffer from low dopamine levels?
By Neil Wedd

I read an article in The Age about Amy Winehouse. The article was interesting but the assertion about risk takers suffering from low dopamine levels was fascinating.

"After her death, Scientific American ran an interview with neuroscientist David Linden of John Hopkins University, who has specialised in studying pleasure, on the possibility of a genetic link between creativity and a susceptibility to addiction. "I think the link is not between creativity and addiction per se," he said. "[But] there is a link between addiction and things which are a prerequisite for creativity."

Addicts tended to have a weak transmission of dopamine, he said, which means their sense of pleasure is blunted. Those with low-functioning dopamine systems were also more likely to be risk-takers, to seek out new things and to be compulsive. "None of which are explicitly creative, but they are things that get to creativity," Linden theorised. "So novelty-seeking might be a spur to creativity. Risk-taking might lead you to go more out on a limb." 

But the correlation of low dopamine with addiction isn't the same thing as a cause. Anyway, it's only one possible contributing factor among more obvious ones such as an unhappy childhood, the wrong friends, the dark allure of dissipation and the kind of money that can buy everybody at the party a lot of drugs without anybody having to rob a bank."

From The Age

Many performers crave the adulation, maybe this is part of it. The difference between the high of performing for adoring fans and then the mundanity of daily existence, travelling, soundcheck, all waiting for that hour of adulation.

I understand the rush that performing gives. The love from the audience focussed on a few individuals is an amazing thing. To stand near the stand is to understand the jolt that this brings.

How do you balance it? In the past the stars were cosseted and everything was done to ensure that they arrived ready to play by whatever means necessary.

These days it happens less. Managers and record companies are less prepared to take on people perceived as hard work. We don't want people being 3 hours late, or struggling to perform (other than illness).

Is this part of the reason that big bands are not being built these days? Do we want to see the risky performers? Or do we want the standard performance that we can all sing along to?

Your thoughts welcomed.



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