A leading neuroscientist who has spent decades studying creativity shares her research on where genius comes from, whether it is dependent on high IQ—and why it is so often accompanied by mental illness.This is a long article (it clocks in at 8000+ words).
And we examined a condition that we called random episodic silent thought, or REST: we asked subjects to lie quietly with their eyes closed, to relax, and to think about whatever came to mind. In essence, they would be engaged in “free association,” letting their minds wander. The acronym REST was intentionally ironic; we suspected that the association regions of the brain would actually be wildly active during this state.And they were. These subconscious associations seem to be an "important component of creativity." I have heard this state also called a "creative revery."
[An example an association region: the prefrontal association complex is involved in planning actions and movement, as well as abstract thought. ]
Interesting thing: we generally says geniuses must be 140+. On the other hand, creativity seems to plateau after 120. It also seems to have components other than mere intelligence.
To be creative, it is important to be “smart enough." And, apparently, to have a family history of mood disorders.