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Food for creativity: tyrosine promotes deep thinking

Abstract

Anecdotal evidence suggests that creative people sometimes use food to overcome mental blocks and lack of inspiration, but empirical support for this possibility is still lacking. In this study, we investigated whether creativity in convergent- and divergent-thinking tasks is promoted by the food supplement l-Tyrosine (TYR)—a biochemical precursor of dopamine, which is assumed to drive cognitive control and creativity. We found no evidence for an impact of TYR on divergent thinking (“brainstorming”) but it did promote convergent (“deep”) thinking. As convergent thinking arguably requires more cognitive top-down control, this finding suggests that TYR can facilitate control-hungry creative operations. Hence, the food we eat may affect the way we think.

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Acknowledgments

The research of L.S. Colzato is supported by a Vidi grant (#452-12-001) of the NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research). We thank our bachelor students, in particular Bonny Roos, for their enthusiasm and invaluable assistance in recruiting and testing the participants of this study.

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Correspondence to Lorenza S. Colzato.

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Colzato, L.S., de Haan, A.M. & Hommel, B. Food for creativity: tyrosine promotes deep thinking. Psychological Research 79, 709–714 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-014-0610-4

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Keywords

  • Cognitive Control
  • Divergent Thinking
  • Creativity Task
  • Human Creativity
  • Convergent Thinking