Wednesday, November 5, 2008

creativity as science, or out with her brain

Creativity is a funny thing. Like much of life, it seems to have cycles. The ebb and flow of ideas and the ebb and flow of energy and time to realize them (and the fact that the ideas don't always come with the time and energy) can sweep us along or leave us high and dry!
Creative blocks present their own issues and can arise from many, many things, including mood disorders like depression, which so many creative people seem subject to. That may be because we have strange brains.
I'm being literal here.
Human brain
Originally uploaded by Gaetan Lee
Albert Einstein willed that his brain be removed for study after his death so that we could further our study of the creative brain. Seriously. Most of the brain never got analyzed --which really seems weird to me.
How do you lose pieces of a genius' brain? (Honey, when are you going to clean out the garage? That brain should be the first thing to go. It's not like you're ever going to use it. Or Well, I was going to do my thesis on Creative Thinking and the Posterior Neocortical Region, but um, my cat ate my homework. *nervous laugh*)

Anyway, what they did find was that his brain was literally abnormal, with over-developed parts, an undivided parietal lobe and a high ratio of glial cells to neurons that could be an indication of the high degree of connectivity, or "communication between regions of the brain that ordinarily are not strongly connected."

Some researchers believe that creativity is the outcome of the same processes as intelligence, and is only judged as creativity in terms of what those processes produce. Others look at anatomic studies, neurobiology and neuropsychiatry and conclude that the brains very creative people have three things in common. They are capable of:
  1. Storing extensive specialized knowledge
  2. Frontal mediated divergent thinking
  3. Modulation of certain hormones and neurotransmitters
They learn their field, they think open-endedly-- not in terms of the single best answer, but of possibilities-- then those two thing have to be connected by the ebb and flow of chemicals.

Yet, we are more than the sum of our parts. Some of us choose to nourish our creativity and some of us choose to ignore it. If you're reading this, you're probably of school A. I find a bit of comfort in the possibility that I'm literally hardwired for creativity and that my job isn't to create it within myself, but just to foster an inner and out world that encourages it to thrive.

What are you doing for your brain today?

Recommended Daily Dose of Art: Bellissima

Brain photo by Gaetan Lee


  1. Thoughtful--and thought-provoking--post. Thank you!

  2. Makes you think a bit about what your brain is like. I see so many people come up with wonderful ideas and think....why didn't I think of that? I think most of us don't even use what we have of a brain. A lot don't try to excercise it. I have always told people that they need to continue learning even after they leave school and get frowned at.

  3. Today, I'm going to give my brain a much needed creative recess from all the facts and figures I normally deal with at my "real" job. Several of us will be putting together floral centerpieces for an upcoming resident/ family holiday dinner in our nursing facility. This will be a collaborative effort this afternoon with me being the team leader. Should be fun!

  4. insightful...and that brain photo is great! I treated my brain today to some clever painting on doors with beveled edges...(it really tested me I must say)...tonight, I'll treat my brain to a bit of rest...some champagne for no good reason...oh and while I'm indulging, some chocolate covered strawberries...

  5. I really enjoyed this post - thanks :)