Supplementary Material for: Positive Traits in the Bipolar Spectrum: The Space between Madness and Genius
Bipolar disorder is a severe, lifelong mood disorder for which little is currently understood of the genetic mechanisms underlying risk. By examining related dimensional phenotypes, we may further our understanding of the disorder. Creativity has a historical connection with the bipolar spectrum and is particularly enhanced among unaffected first-degree relatives and those with bipolar spectrum traits. This suggests that some aspects of the bipolar spectrum may confer advantages, while more severe expressions of symptoms negatively influence creative accomplishment. Creativity is a complex, multidimensional construct with both cognitive and affective components, many of which appear to reflect a shared genetic vulnerability with bipolar disorder. It is suggested that a subset of bipolar risk variants confer advantages as positive traits according to an inverted-U-shaped curve with clinically unaffected allele carriers benefitting from the positive traits and serving to maintain the risk alleles in the population. The association of risk genes with creativity in healthy individuals (e.g., NRG1), as well as an overall sharing of common genetic variation between bipolar patients and creative individuals, provides support for this model. Current findings are summarized from a multidisciplinary perspective to demonstrate the feasibility of research in this area to reveal the mechanisms underlying illness.