Not everything in life can be achieved with hard work. Creative insights have the perverse tendency to come when we're not working at all. The more we hunker down and focus, the more creative thought flutters out of reach.

This seems to be the case for the various components into which scientists have broken creativity down. One of the most widely studied is a process called divergent thinking — a kind of mental exploration measured by such tasks as inventing new uses for a brick or a paper clip. In a recent Scientific American article, psychologist Holly White argues that people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely than the rest of us to summon divergent thinking as well as other facets of creative thought.

White identified two other creative processes where people with ADHD may have an edge. There's conceptual expansion, which is tested by, say, asking people to invent a fruit that would exist on another planet. And there's the ability to overcome prior knowledge — to see ways to do something differently from the way it's been done before.