- Hardcover: 197 pages
- Publisher: Dana Press; 1 edition (November 30, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1932594078
- ISBN-13: 978-1932594072
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #606,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius Hardcover – November 30, 2005
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. How does one define extraordinary creativity? Is creative genius a product of nature or nurture? And can those of us who are less creative enhance the creative capacity in ourselves and others? Andreasen (The Broken Brain), editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Psychiatric Association, brings neuroscience to bear in providing insight and expert analysis of the connections between extraordinary creativity, mental illness, intelligence and the social environment. The complex subject matter is punctuated with intriguing research, such as Andreasen's Iowa Writer's Workshop study examining the relationship between creativity and psychopathology; a study of London taxi drivers showing that their need for extensive memory of the city leads to a larger hippocampus; and a study of members of symphony orchestras that found increased gray matter in Broca's area. These studies lead Andreasen to conclude that "extraordinary creativity" is the result of neural processes that "differ qualitatively as well as quantitatively" from those of other people. The author's passion and admiration for creative genius and the arts—not surprising given her Ph.D. in Renaissance English literature—is evidenced in her exploration of such great minds as Mozart, da Vinci, Michelangelo and Tchaikovsky. And quotations from introspective accounts by mathematician Henri Poincaré, chemist Friedrich Kekulé, Stephen Spender and Neil Simon vividly describe mental activities that are anything but ordinary. Andreasen leaves us with hope that the potential exists to enhance the creative capacity in our children and in ourselves. Photos and illus. (Nov.)
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From Scientific American
What is the nature of creativity? What conditions foster it? What is going on inside the brain of a Mozart or a Shakespeare during the creative process? And is there a relation between creativity and mental illness, as often posited? Science thus far has produced only sketchy answers to these fascinating questions. The Creating Brain is a worthwhile inquiry into the subject and a reminder of how little is known.
Nancy C. Andreasen, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at the University of Iowa who started her career as a Renaissance English scholar, argues that some characteristics of creative peoplesuch as openness to new experiences and sensitivity to sensory inputsmay also make them more prone to mental and emotional problems. Her study of Iowa Writers Workshop participants shows a correlation between mood disorders and creativity, and other scientists have found similar tendencies in studies of literary and artistic types. Such research, however, has not shown a suspected link between artistic creativity and schizophrenic symptoms. Andreasen, who tends to draw conclusions primarily from her own work, notes that she is performing a study to see if any such tendency exists among especially creative scientists.
Despite the paucity of evidence, Andreasen suggests that creativity arises largely from the "association cortex"parts of the frontal, parietal and temporal lobes that integrate sensory and other information. This idea, however, has just begun to be researched; Andreasen, again, relies heavily on her own study, this one done with positron-emission tomography (PET) scans of peoples brains during free association.
In pondering the topic of genius, Andreasen points out that certain historical times and places have produced a bounty of brilliance. Among these "cradles of creativity" she lists ancient Athens, Renaissance Florence and mid- to late 19th-century Paris. Her list of factors spurring creative thought in such places is plausible if unsurprising: intellectual freedom, open competition, a critical mass of creative people, the presence of mentors and patrons, and some degree of economic prosperity.
Andreasen also provides tips for boosting creativity. For adults, she proposes exercises such as making close observations of a chosen item or imagining oneself to be someplace or someone else. Her suggestions for kids are mainly common sense, including less television exposure and more music and outdoor activity. The Creating Brain contains much of interest, even if breakthroughs lie mostly in the future.
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Top customer reviews
In this highly interesting book, the author acknowledges that the environment is important in nurturing creativity, but she also wants to understand what mechanisms in the brain are responsible for it. An understanding of these mechanisms is extremely important, for it could point the way to better methods of enhancing creativity, either by using pharmaceuticals, with techniques from genetic engineering, or possibly with radical changes in the environment. The author is a neuroscientist, and not a philosopher, and so her analysis is based more on what is observed in the laboratory, and not mere speculations from the armchair. Her goal is to obtain a neuroscience of creativity, which considering the paucity of research in this area, is a goal that one hopes she (and other researchers) will succeed in reaching.
One of the first issues that the author addresses in the book is the relation (if any) between intelligence and creativity. Reviewing the history of the study between these two notions, and noting creative people have been equated with "geniuses", she concludes that, in general, one can conclude that a certain level of intelligence is needed to make original contributions, one needs another faculty of the brain in order to do so. It is not clear from this discussion whether she believes that this entails a modular view of the brain, i.e. one in which the brain consists of specialized modules for various tasks, one of these modules being for tasks requiring creativity.
The author is also careful to note that originality, creativity, or novelty are concepts that are dependent on the context in which ideas arise and in the perceived utility of these ideas. In this regard, she discusses the work of the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who believed in the existence of "true creativity". As summarized by the author, Csikszentmihalyi held that creativity should be understood in terms of the relationship between a `domain', which is a particular area of knowledge; a `field' that is a collection of experts in the domain, and a `person' who actually introduces novel ideas into the domain under the auspices of the field. Motivated by these considerations, the author holds that creativity must involve originality, utility, and must lead to product of some kind. These requirements, at least on the surface, are reasonable, but there are difficulties that arise when one attempts to check them for a particular idea or concept. One issue that immediately arises in this regard is attempting to check whether indeed the concept or creation is indeed novel, or whether it was actually contained in prior ideas or creations. The issue of whether an idea was actually contained in prior ones comes up quite frequently in the field of automated mathematical discovery, which seeks to emulate, in a machine, human creative mathematical ability. Because of the deductive nature of mathematics, the progression of ideas must follow logically from those in prior ones, i.e. in the premises. But the "new" ideas must be different in some sense from the ones that they are logically derived from. It can be become very debatable whether these ideas were indeed original, or whether they were merely "contained in the premises."
The book would not be complete of course if the author did not discuss in detail her ideas on the neuroscience behind creativity. For the general reader, she includes some elementary discussion on brain anatomy as a warm-up. In her brief treatment of the functions of the brain she mentions the current debate as to the executive functions of the brain, i.e. whether there is a central "executive" in the brain that decides what changes are to occur. As an alternative to a central authority, the author mentions the view of the brain as being a `self-organizing' system. This is currently a popular view of the brain among physicists, and for the author it helps to explain what she calls "ordinary creativity." However, the author clearly believes that something else is needed to explain "extraordinary" creativity: unconscious processes such as the process of `free association.' The author refers to her experimental work on using neuroimaging technology to find out which areas of the brain are active during free association. Her work is also dependent on the notion of `episodic memory', which she characterizes as memory that is linked to the personal experiences of the individual. Her neuroimaging experiments indicated that the association cortex was active when the subject was engaging in random unconscious free association. She is careful to admit though that a lot more research is needed to find the neural basis behind extraordinary creativity, but her suspicion is that it involves making links between objects or concepts that were not linked before. These associative links "run wild" and create new connections, resulting in a disorganized mental state. This motivates her to study the connection between creativity and insanity, a topic that she also discusses at some length in the book, along with hints and exercises that individuals can use to enhance their creativity.
I bought the book because I am known as "a creative".
I was curious about the title, however I found no new information that I haven't already read or studied in the past. In fact I got angry at the author the more I read and I disagree with some of her statements. She made a book out of her past college studies and got it published. I wonder if I could get away with that?
It may be a good book for someone totally uneducated, who never has heard about about Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo or ever went to college, since the information is totally out of past text books. She totally missed or intentionally ignored the true creative wave that we have now in our society and the reason for it. Don't waste your money, I did.
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QUESTION: What do Neil Simon (playwright), Mozart (music composer), and Friedrich Kekule (organic chemist) have in common?Read more