Örjan de Manzano, PhD

Research Interests

  • Neural processes in creative performance
  • Personal characteristics and environmental factors that predict creative achievement
  • Psychobiological mechanisms underpinning the flow experience
  • Neural correlates of skill acquisition and expertise
  • Brain representations of actions


Academic Education

2010PhD, Medical science, Dept. Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
2005MSc, Cognitive Science, Linköping University, Sweden


Professional Experience

Since 09/2021Senior Researcher at the Max-Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Frankfurt am Main
2013–08/2021Senior Lab Manager, Karolinska Institutet, Department of  Neuroscience, Sweden  
2012–2013Postdoctoral fellow, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
2011Postdoctoral fellow, Dept. Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
2002–2006Interface designer/Developer, ISD Datasystem AB, Sweden


Articles (in peer-reviewed journals)

Merseal, H.M., Beaty, R.E., Kenett, Y.N., Lloyd-Cox, J., de Manzano, Ö., Norgaard, M. (2023). Representing melodic relationships using network science. Cognition, 233. Article 105362. doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2022.105362

de Manzano, Ö., & Ullén, F. (2021). Domain specific traits predict achievement in music and multipotentiality. Intelligence, 89, Article 101584. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2021.101584

Kuckelkorn, K. L., de Manzano, Ö., & Ullén, F. (2021). Musical expertise and personality – differences related to occupational choice and instrument categories. Personality and Individual Differences, 173, Article 110573. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2020.110573

de Manzano, Ö., Kuckelkorn, K. L., Ström, K., & Ullén, F. (2020). Action-perception coupling and near transfer: Listening to melodies after piano practice triggers sequence-specific representations in the auditory-motor network. Cerebral Cortex, 30(10), 5193-5203. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhaa018

Khemiri, L., Steensland, P., Guterstam, J., de Manzano, Ö., Franck, J., & Jayaram-Lindström, N. (2020). Effects of the monoamine stabilizer (-)OSU6162 on cognitive function in alcohol dependence. Psychopharmacology, 237(1), 69-82. doi:10.1007/s00213-019-05345-6

de Manzano, Ö., & Ullén, F. (2018). Genetic and environmental influences on the phenotypic associations between intelligence, personality, and creative achievement in the arts and sciences. Intelligence, 69, 123-133. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2018.05.004

de Manzano, Ö., & Ullén, F. (2018). Same genes, different brains: Neuroanatomical differences between monozygotic twins discordant for musical training. Cerebral Cortex, 28(1), 387-394. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhx299

Mosing, M. A., Verweij, K. J. H., Abé, C., de Manzano, Ö., & Ullén, F. (2016). On the relationship between domain-specific creative achievement and sexual orientation in Swedish twins. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 45(7), 1799-1806. doi:10.1007/s10508-016-0708-4

Theorell, T., de Manzano, Ö., Lennartsson, A.-K., Pedersen, N. L., & Ullén, F. (2016). Self-reported psychological demands, skill discretion and decision authority at work: A twin study. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 44(4), 354-360. doi:10.1177/1403494815626610

Pinho, A. L., Ullén, F., Castelo-Branco, M., Fransson, P., & de Manzano, Ö. (2016). Addressing a paradox: Dual strategies for creative performance in introspective and extrospective networks. Cerebral Cortex, 26(7), 3052-3063. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhv130

Harmat, L., de Manzano, Ö., Theorell, T., Högman, L., Fischer, H., & Ullén, F. (2015). Physiological correlates of the flow experience during computer game playing. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 97(1), 1-7. doi:10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.05.001

Pinho, A. L., de Manzano, Ö., Fransson, P., Eriksson, H., & Ullén, F. (2014). Connecting to create: expertise in musical improvisation is associated with increased functional connectivity between premotor and prefrontal areas. The Journal of Neuroscience, 34(18), 6156-6163. doi:10.1523/jneurosci.4769-13.2014

de Manzano, Ö., Cervenka, S., Jucaite, A., Hellenäs, O., Farde, L., & Ullén, F. (2013). Individual differences in the proneness to have flow experiences are linked to dopamine D2-receptor availability in the dorsal striatum. NeuroImage, 67, 1-6. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.10.072

de Manzano, Ö., & Ullén, F. (2012). Activation and connectivity patterns of the presupplementary and dorsal premotor areas during free improvisation of melodies and rhythms. NeuroImage, 63(1), 272-280. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.06.024

Forsman, L. J., de Manzano, Ö., Karabanov, A., Madison, G., & Ullén, F. (2012). Differences in regional brain volume related to the extraversion-introversion dimension-A voxel based morphometry study. Neuroscience Research, 72(1), 59-67. doi:10.1016/j.neures.2011.10.001

Ullén, F., de Manzano, Ö., Almeida, R., Magnusson, P. K. E., Pedersen, N. L., Nakamura, J., Csíkszentmihályi, M., & Madison, G. (2012). Proneness for psychological flow in everyday life: Associations with personality and intelligence. Personality and Individual Differences, 52(2), 167-172. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2011.10.003

de Manzano, Ö., & Ullén, F. (2012). Goal-independent mechanisms for free response generation: Creative and pseudo-random performance share neural substrates. NeuroImage, 59(1), 772-780. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.07.016

Holmström, L., de Manzano, Ö., Vollmer, B., Forsman, L., Valero-Cuevas, F. J., Ullén, F., & Forssberg, H. (2011). Dissociation of brain areas associated with force production and stabilization during manipulation of unstable objects. Experimental Brain Research, 215(3-4), 359-367. doi:10.1007/s00221-011-2903-9

Laszlo, H., Ullén, F., de Manzano, Ö., Olsson, E., Elofsson, U., von Scheele, B., & Theorell, T. (2011). Heart Rate Variability During Piano Playing : A Case Study of Three Professional Solo Pianists Playing a Self-Selected and a Difficult Prima Vista Piece. Music and Medicine, 3(2), 102-107.

de Manzano, Ö., Cervenka, S., Karabanov, A., Farde, L., & Ullén, F. (2010). Thinking Outside a Less Intact Box: Thalamic Dopamine D2 Receptor Densities Are Negatively Related to Psychometric Creativity in Healthy Individuals. PLOS ONE, 5(5), Article e10670. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010670

de Manzano, Ö., Theorell, T., Harmat, L., & Ullén, F. (2010). The psychophysiology of flow during piano playing. Emotion, 10(3), 301-311. doi:10.1037/a0018432

Karabanov, A., Cervenka, S., de Manzano, Ö., Forssberg, H., Farde, L., & Ullén, F. (2010). Dopamine D2 receptor density in the limbic striatum is related to implicit but not explicit movement sequence learning. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(16), 7574-7579. doi:10.1073/pnas.0911805107.

Karabanov, A., Blom, Ö., Forsman, L., & Ullén, F. (2009). The dorsal auditory pathway is involved in performance of both visual and auditory rhythms. NeuroImage, 44(2), 480-488. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.08.047

Madison, G., Forsman, L., Blom, Ö., Karabanov, A., & Ullén, F. (2009). Correlations between intelligence and components of serial timing variability. Intelligence, 37(1), 68-75. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2008.07.006

Ullén, F., Forsman, L., Blom, Ö., Karabanov, A., & Madison, G. (2008). Intelligence and variability in a simple timing task share neural substrates in the prefrontal white matter. The Journal of Neuroscience, 28(16), 4238-4243. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0825-08.2008

Book Chapters

de Manzano, Ö., (2020). Flow in Performance and Creative Cognition – An Optimal State of Task-Based Adaptation. In Abraham A. (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of the Imagination (pp. 796-810). Cambridge University Press.

Harmat, L., de Manzano, Ö., & Ullén, F. (2021). Flow in music and arts. In C. Pfeifer & S. Engeser (Eds.), Advances in Flow Research (pp. 377-391). Springer International Publishing. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-53468-4_14

Ullén, F., de Manzano, Ö., & Mosing, M. A. (2019). Neural mechanisms of expertise. In P. Ward, J. M. Schraagen, & E. M. Roth (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Expertise: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198795872.013.6

Ullén, F., de Manzano, Ö., Theorell, T., & Harmat, L. (2010). 10 The physiology of effortless attention: Correlates of state flow and flow proneness. In B. Bruya (Ed.), Effortless Attention: A New Perspective in the Cognitive Science of Attention and Action (pp. 205-218). The MIT Press.


Awards & Grants

2021–2024Project funding, Familjen Kamprads stiftelse, 5.500.000kr (coapplicant with Dr. László Harmat at the Linneus University)
2018–2020Project funding, Karolinska Institutet fonder 80.000kr
2011Funding for salary, Stiftelsen Frimurare Barnhuset i Stockholm, 300.000kr
2012Project funding, Karolinska Institutet fonder, 36.100kr
2011Project funding, Sällskapet Barnavård, 90.000kr
2018Project funding, Vetenskapsrådet, t 4.173.000kr, (coapplicant, with Susanne Rosenberg at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm)
2012Funding for salary, Kjell och Märta  Beijers Stiftelse, 500.000kr, (coapplicant, with Prof. Fredrik Ullén)
2012–2018Funding for salary, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, 29.200.000kr, (research staff, with Prof. Fredrik Ullén at Karolinska Institutet)
2010Funding for salary, Kjell och Märta Beijers Stiftelse, 500.000kr, (coapplicant, with Prof. Fredrik Ullén