New research has shown that creativity mostly takes place in the cerebellum, while the executive functioning of the frontal lobe actually restricts creativity.
One of the features of autism (and ADD/ADHD) is impaired executive functioning. Among the things executive functioning does, according to Web MD:
- Manage time
- Pay attention
- Switch focus
- Plan and organize
- Remember details
- Avoid saying or doing the wrong thing
- Do things based on your experience
When your executive functioning is impaired, you have difficulty with the above abilities. I recently wrote about the problems people with autism have with the last one on the list. The inability to make use of prior knowledge, then, is an executive functioning problem. While this seems to contradict my claims in the previous post, the place where concepts are formed — the hippocampus — is also a place where executive functioning takes place. And there are impairments with the hippocampus in those with autism — in particular, there are issues with oxytocin, about which I have written before. And as we have seen before, GABA is also involved. Those “unwanted” thoughts are the source of creativity.
All of this points to a brain that is structurally and biochemically different from more typical brains. And the connection between executive functioning and creativity also explains why autistic people tend to be very creative.