The Creative Brain
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The Creative Brain
art, metaphor, insight, creation - and the brains that make them possible
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Does Prozac help artists be creative? | The Guardian

Does Prozac help artists be creative? | The Guardian | The Creative Brain | Scoop.it

"Twenty-five years after pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly unleashed Prozac on the red-braced 80s, SSRIs are still the world's most popular antidepressants. They are swallowed by more than 40 million people, from Beijing to Beirut, knitting a web of happiness from New York to New Caledonia. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, of which Prozac is the best known, are the defining drug of the modern age, the crutch of choice for the worried well. In the US, where one in 10 takes antidepressants, you can buy beef-flavoured Prozac for your dog, trademarked Reconcile. The Prozac revolution has not only changed the way we think about depression (aided by Eli Lilly's mammoth advertising campaign); it has also changed the way we think, full stop.

 

In his 1993 book Listening to Prozac, the psychiatrist Peter D Kramer explored the ethical issues around the rise of what he termed "cosmetic pharmacology". With a daily pill people could now banish social awkwardness or the unhappiness of relationship break-ups, forge brassily assertive personae from their once shy selves. Like the Soma of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, Prozac was making people "better than well". Kramer wrote of the "personality transformations" that occurred in a substantial minority of those taking the drug, briefly pausing to speculate as to what impact this might have had on their creativity. While we know, thanks to Kay Redfield Jamison's Touched with Fire, that poets are up to 30 times more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder than the national average, we have no idea how or if the pills they take to treat the disease affect their creative output.

 

The French writer Henry de Montherlant said that happiness writes white. For me that whiteness was the colour of a 20mg Cipralex pill – a close cousin of Prozac – taken at the breakfast table. With the depthless chemical happiness of the drug, a thin layer of snow seemed to fall over my mind, blocking access to strong feeling, cutting me off from the hidden impulses that drove me to write. Sometimes I did feel "better than well", but more often I was haunted by the uncanny feeling that I was skimming over the surface of my life. Looking back, those Prozac years have a curious, occluded feel, as if viewed through a gauze.

 

To celebrate the drug's quarter-century, I spoke to other writers, artists and musicians who have taken SSRIs, trying to establish whether they have been a bane or a boon for our collective creativity..."

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The Artist Is In | TED Playlists

The Artist Is In | TED Playlists | The Creative Brain | Scoop.it

Why create? Artists and designers share their work, their process and their vision in these deeply personal -- and often hilarious -- talks.


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Exploring the neural correlates of visual creativity

Exploring the neural correlates of visual creativity | The Creative Brain | Scoop.it

ABSTRACT:

Although creativity has been called the most important of all human resources, its neural basis is still unclear. In the current study, we used fMRI to measure neural activity in participants solving a visuospatial creativity problem that involves divergent thinking and has been considered a canonical right hemisphere task. As hypothesized, both the visual creativity task and the control task as compared to rest activated a variety of areas including the posterior parietal cortex bilaterally and motor regions, which are known to be involved in visuospatial rotation of objects. However, directly comparing the two tasks indicated that the creative task more strongly activated left hemisphere regions including the posterior parietal cortex, the premotor cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and the medial PFC. These results demonstrate that even in a task that is specialized to the right hemisphere, robust parallel activity in the left hemisphere supports creative processing. Furthermore, the results support the notion that higher motor planning may be a general component of creative improvisation and that such goal-directed planning of novel solutions may be organized top-down by the left DLPFC and by working memory processing in the medial prefrontal cortex.

 

Aziz-Zadeh, L., Liew, S-L., & Dandekar, F. (2013). Exploring the neural correlates of visual creativity. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 8(4), 475-480. doi: 10.1093/scan/nss021

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Creative People: A Complex Personality

“If there is one word that makes creative people different from others, it is the word complexity.” Creativity researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.


Via Douglas Eby
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monica gigante's comment, March 27, 2013 11:55 AM
Thanks Erica, good sugestion! uma otima sugestao! :)
Douglas Eby's comment, March 27, 2013 5:51 PM
Thanks - here is a link to The Da Vinci Method http://shrd.by/cASYML
Érica Ariano's comment, March 27, 2013 7:07 PM
Oh yeah, great Douglas. You shared the most important thing - thank you! ;) Loporto has a site too http://thedavincimethod.com/ and this video is nice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPR3GlpQQJA
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Openness to Experience and Intellectual Ability | Psychology Today

Openness to Experience and Intellectual Ability | Psychology Today | The Creative Brain | Scoop.it

People who are high on Openness to experience are generally receptive to entertaining new and challenging facets of cultural life, as well as personal thoughts and emotions (McCrae & Costa, 2003), and studies have reported a positive relationship between Openness to experience and performance on tests of intelligence (Ackerman & Heggestad, 1997; Gignac, Stough, & Loukomitis, 2004)...the construct of Openness to experience measures the tendency to fantasize, an aesthetic sensitivity, awareness of one’s emotions, preference for novelty, intellectual curiosity, and preference for nontraditional values (McCrae & Costa, 2003)....The artistic imagination, aesthetic, independent and nonconforming aspects of Openness (Deraad, Hendriks, & Hofstee, 1992; Johnson, 1994) may be critical drivers of broader patterns of cognitive activity and experience that help to sustain higher levels of cognitive complexity throughout adulthood."

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Neuroscience in Fiction: “Exhalation” by Ted Chiang | Illusion Chasers

Neuroscience in Fiction: “Exhalation” by Ted Chiang | Illusion Chasers | The Creative Brain | Scoop.it

Our “Neuroscience in Fiction” selection for this Friday is Ted Chiang’s short story “Exhalation” (2008), published in the anthology, “Eclipse 2: New Science Fiction and Fantasy”, and winner of the British Science Fiction Association, the Locus, and the Hugo Awards.

 

“Once the preparations were complete, I was able to place each of my hands on a nest of knobs and levers and control a pair of manipulators situated behind my head, and use the periscope to see what they worked on. I would then be able to dissect my own brain..."

Eileen Cardillo's insight:

"Something is taking its course." Last weekend I saw a production of Beckett's Endgame, its lines still echoing in my head as I contemplate the auto-dissection that is meditation and enjoy this short story. May you enjoy it too.

 

Picture credit: "Introspection" (2002), sculpture by Lewis Tardy (http://www.tardysculpture.com/)

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Brain tumor doesn't stop this N.J. artist — it makes him better

Brain tumor doesn't stop this N.J. artist — it makes him better | The Creative Brain | Scoop.it

 

"[Arthur] Bucknor, a semi-professional painter who specialized in African Cubism, had sold paintings all over the world but a brain tumor, discovered in 2010, partially paralyzed his left side — and dominant hand...Bucknor, 49, still does not have full use of his left hand, but after more than a year of practice, he has learned to paint with his right. The right hand is more expressive and fluid. His weaker hand made him a stronger painter..."

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Fluid movement and Creativity | J of Experimental Psychology: General

Fluid movement and Creativity | J of Experimental Psychology: General | The Creative Brain | Scoop.it

Somewhat surprising that such subtle manipulations had an effect. Abstract: Cognitive scientists describe creativity as fluid thought. Drawing from findings on gesture and embodied cognition, we hypothesized that the physical experience of fluidity, relative to nonfluidity, would lead to more fluid, creative thought. Across 3 experiments, fluid arm movement led to enhanced creativity in 3 domains: creative generation, cognitive flexibility, and remote associations. Alternative mechanisms such as enhanced mood and motivation were also examined. These results suggest that creativity can be influenced by certain types of physical movement.

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Link between creativity and mental illness confirmed in large-scale Swedish study

Link between creativity and mental illness confirmed in large-scale Swedish study | The Creative Brain | Scoop.it

Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet have provided compelling evidence confirming the link between creativity and mental illness. The large-scale Swedish registry study replicated a previous finding that biopolar disorder - but not other psychopathologies - is more common in artistic and scientific professions (dancers, researchers, photographers, and authors), and further indicated that authors were specifically more prevalent among those with schizophrenia, depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse. Creative professions were also more common in family members of patients with certain psychiatric disorders. Including data from most of the Sweden's population (!), this is considered the most comprehensive study to date. It's not a study of contemplation at all (sorry, folks) - but as someone curious about the similarities between certain mental states cultivated by traditional contemplative practices, the flow states cultivated in indiosyncratic ways by creative professionals, and the occasional psychotic experiences during intensive meditation, this line of research fascinates me.

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Special Issue: Neuroaesthetics and the Neurobiology of Aesthetic Production

Special Issue: Neuroaesthetics and the Neurobiology of Aesthetic Production | The Creative Brain | Scoop.it

The contents of this special issue of Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts represent four main approaches to the biological underpinnings of art and aesthetics: psychology, neuroimaging, neurology, and evolution. From the Introduction by Editors Marcos Nadal and Martin Skov:

 

"Experimental studies of brain mechanisms involved in the appreciation of art and aesthetics have proliferated rapidly in the last decade. The development of new neuroscientific methods and the growing number of researchers interested in the biological foundations of art and aesthetics have contributed to the emergence of neuroaesthetics as a proper research field. However, to avoid tripping over itself even before it can make significant steps forward, neuroaesthetics needs to search for firm footing in closely related disciplines. We expect more from neuroaesthetics than a mere catalog of brain regions whose activity is related with aesthetic and artistic activities. We expect it to contribute to fundamental discussions raised by psychologists, anthropologists, and other scientists, but we also expect it to pose new questions, and offer new answers that will intrigue our colleagues. Neuroaesthetics needs to ask and answer questions that are meaningful beyond its own boundaries. We believe that the only way neuroaesthetics will achieve this is through a fluid dialogue with other disciplines. The aim of this special issue is to initiate this dialogue."

Eileen Cardillo's insight:

I am admittedly biased, as this research was conducted by several people I work with at Penn, but I especially recommend the paper by Ben van Buren and colleagues:

 

van Buren, B. et al. (2013). Changes in painting styles of two artists with Alzheimer's disease. Pschology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 7(1), 89-94. 

 

Comparison of artistic production before and after neurodegenerative disease, as well as before and after focal brain injury, suggests systematic effects of neurological illness on conceptual properties of art. In both populations, paintings were judged as less realistic, more distorted, and more abstract following illness. By contrast, more formal, perceptual attributes of paintings were not consistently altered by illness. 

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How Dan Brown and other authors defeat writer's block | Guardian

How Dan Brown and other authors defeat writer's block | Guardian | The Creative Brain | Scoop.it
Jon Henley: The Da Vinci Code novelist hangs upside-down to get the creative juices flowing, while others rely on noise-cancelling headphones, sleeping bags and vitamins
Eileen Cardillo's insight:

Social isolation, sensory deprivation, and regularity are common key ingredients for cultivating the looseness of mind necessary for a productive, creative state. Other practices - like hanging upside down - appear more idiosyncratic.

 

Kent Haruf explained, "It's the old notion of blinding yourself so you can see. So you can see differently, I mean. I remove my glasses, pull a stocking cap down over my eyes, and type the first draft single-spaced on the yellow paper in the actual and metaphorical darkness behind my closed eyes, trying to avoid being distracted by syntax or diction or punctuation or grammar or spelling or word choice or anything else that would block the immediate delivery of the story."

 

The Paris Review of Books author interviews give wonderful glimpses into the writers' rituals and practices, as does the New York Times "Writers on Writing" series. 

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Positively Valenced Stimuli Facilitate Creative Novel Metaphoric Processes by Enhancing Medial Prefrontal Cortical Activation | Frontiers in Cognitive Science

Positively Valenced Stimuli Facilitate Creative Novel Metaphoric Processes by Enhancing Medial Prefrontal Cortical Activation | Frontiers in Cognitive Science | The Creative Brain | Scoop.it

ABSTRACT

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a subject is symbolic of another unrelated object. In the present study, we examined neural patterns associated with both novel unfamiliar and conventional familiar metaphoric processing, and how these patterns are modulated by affective valence. Prior to fMRI scanning, participants received a list of word pairs (novel unfamiliar metaphors as well as conventional familiar metaphors) and were asked to denote the valence (positive, negative, or neutral) of each word pair. During scanning, participants had to decide whether the word pairs formed meaningful or meaningless expressions. Results indicate that participants were faster and more accurate at deciding that positively valenced metaphors were meaningful compared to neutral metaphors. These behavioral findings were accompanied by increased activation in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), and the right inferior parietal lobe (RIPL). Specifically, positively valenced novel unfamiliar metaphors elicited activation in these brain regions in addition to the left superior temporal gyrus when compared to neutral novel metaphors. We also found that the mPFC and PCC mediated the processing of positively valenced metaphors when compared to negatively valenced metaphors. Positively valenced conventional metaphors, however, elicited different neural signatures when contrasted with either neutral or negatively valenced conventional metaphors. Together, our results indicate that positively valenced stimuli facilitate creative metaphoric processes (specifically novel metaphoric processes) by mediating attention and cognitive control processes required for the access, integration, and selection of semantic associations via modulation of the mPFC. The present study is important for the development of neural accounts of emotion-cognition interactions required for creativity, language, and successful social functioning in general.

 

Subramaniam, K., Beeman, M., Faust, M., & Mashal, N. (in press). Positively valenced stimuli facilitate creative novel metaphoric processes by enhancing medial prefrontal cortical activation. Frontiers in Cognitive Science. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00211

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The artful mind meets art history | Behavioral and Brain Sciences

The artful mind meets art history | Behavioral and Brain Sciences | The Creative Brain | Scoop.it

Abstract: Research seeking a scientific foundation for the theory of art appreciation has raised controversies at the intersection of the social and cognitive sciences. Though equally relevant to a scientific inquiry into art appreciation, psychological and historical approaches to art developed independently and lack a common core of theoretical principles. Historicists argue that psychological and brain sciences ignore the fact that artworks are artifacts produced and appreciated in the context of unique historical situations and artistic intentions. After revealing flaws in the psychological approach, we introduce a psycho-historical framework for the science of art appreciation. This framework demonstrates that a science of art appreciation must investigate how appreciators process causal and historical information to classify and explain their psychological responses to art. Expanding on research about the cognition of artifacts, we identify three modes of appreciation: basic exposure to an artwork, the artistic design stance, and artistic understanding... We conclude that scientists can tackle fundamental questions about the nature and appreciation of art within the psycho-historical framework.

 

Bullot, N.J., & Reber, R. (2013). The artful mind meets art history: Toward a psycho-historical framework for science of art appreciation. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36(2), 123-180. doi: 10.1017/S0140525X12000489

 

Photo credit: Franz Marc, Kämpfende Formen (Fighting Forms)

Eileen Cardillo's insight:

I recommend the commentary by cognitive neurologist and colleague, Anjan Chatterjee. ("Neuroaesthetics: Range and restrictions, p137-138).

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Where Do Mental Illness And Creativity Meet? | NPR

Where Do Mental Illness And Creativity Meet? | NPR | The Creative Brain | Scoop.it
Comedian Joshua Walters, who's bipolar, walks the line between mental illness and mental "skillness." He asks: What's the right balance between medicating craziness away, and riding the manic edge of creativity and drive?
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Maximize your "Aha!" Moment

Maximize your "Aha!" Moment | The Creative Brain | Scoop.it

Daniel Goleman on moments of creative insight and their neural signature: "Brain studies on creativity reveal what goes on at that "Aha!" moment when we get a sudden insight. If you measure EEG brain waves during a creative moment, it turns out there is very high gamma activity that spikes 300 milliseconds before the answer comes to us. Gamma activity indicates the binding together of neurons, as far-flung brain cells connect in a new neural network - as when a new association emerges. Immediately after that gamma spike, the new idea enters our consciousness."

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Corridors of the Mind - Could neuroscientists be the next great architects?

Corridors of the Mind - Could neuroscientists be the next great architects? | The Creative Brain | Scoop.it

Taking interdisciplinary thinking to new heights: "Architects have been talking for years about “biophilic” design, “evidence based” design, design informed by the work of psychologists. But last May, at the profession’s annual convention, John Zeisel and fellow panelists were trying to explain neuroscience to a packed ballroom."

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Creative Brains: Music, Art & Emotion | BayAreaScience.org

Creative Brains: Music, Art & Emotion | BayAreaScience.org | The Creative Brain | Scoop.it

Wish I could go! Upcoming Bay Area program: "Neuroscience is providing new insights into the structural and functional components of the brain, which in turn are raising new questions about aging, disease, creativity, language and emotions. Join the Director of the UCSF Memory and Aging Center Dr. Bruce Miller, Neurology Research Scientist at the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease Dr. Keith Vossel, Cognitive Neuroscience Affiliate and San Francisco Conservatory of Music Professor Indre Viskontas, and Hellman Visiting Artist and fiddler Heidi Clare for an experiential exploration of the mind, music and creativity – and how they change."

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