Rappers making up rhymes on the fly while in a brain scanner have provided an insight into the creative process. Freestyle rapping — in which a performer improvises a song by stringing together unrehearsed lyrics — is a highly prized skill in hip hop. But instead of watching a performance in a club, Siyuan Liu and Allen Braun, neuroscientists at the US National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders in Bethesda, Maryland, and their colleagues had 12 rappers freestyle in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine. The artists also recited a set of memorized lyrics chosen by the researchers. By comparing the brain scans from rappers taken during freestyling to those taken during the rote recitation, they were able to see which areas of the brain are used during improvisation. The study is published today in Scientific Reports1.
Posts Tagged ‘Creativity’
Tags: Brain, Cognition, Creativity, Mind, Science, tech
Imagine a creativity cap. A device that would free you, if only momentarily, from your mindsets, from your prejudices, from the mental blocks to creativity. These words are emblazoned on the website Creativitycap.com, and they represent the vision of neuroscientist Allan Snyder. Snyder believes we all possess untapped powers of cognition, normally seen only in rare individuals called savants, and accessing them might take just a few jolts of electricity to the brain. It sounds like a Michael Crichton plot, but Snyder, of the University of Sydney, Australia, says he wouldn’t be surprised to see a prototype of the creativity cap within a couple of years. His research suggests that brain stimulation improves people’s ability to solve difficult problems. But Snyder’s interpretation of his findings remains controversial, and the science of using brain stimulation to boost thinking is still in its early stages. “I think it’s a bit of a minefield,” said psychologist Robyn Young of Flinders University in Australia, who has tried to replicate Snyder’s early experiments. “I’m not really sure whether the technology is developed that can turn it into a more accurate science.” (via Unlock Your Inner Rain Man by Electrically Zapping Your Brain | Wired Science | Wired.com)
…Creativity is, in a nutshell, a bit crazy – and most crazy people are too disorganized to do much. But geniuses require to be a bit crazy, yet also do prolonged focused work – and this is a reason why there are so few of them. * So – high intelligence is very rare (and some societies have too low an average intelligence to generate more than a tiny proportion of very intelligent people). Within this tiny group of highly intelligent people, on top of all this, to get the coincidence of a creative way of thinking with a sufficiently persevering personality type is very rare. And among this small percentage of a small percentage, there are the workings of sheer luck, there is the higher than normal risk of (self) sabotage by mental illness and addiction, there are the problems of a higher than usual probability of an abrasive or antisocial personality – and (as Murray identifies) the likelihood that for a person to aim very high requires a belief in transcendental values (the beautiful, the truth, virtue) – and that some societies (such as our own) lack this belief. * Put all these together and it is clear why in all societies genius is rare; and why genius is completely absent from most societies…
If we could identify a gene for creativity, let’s call it the “creativity gene”, you would be hard pressed to find very many people who would consider it a “negative gene” or a hazard to possess or carry. But what if, purely hypothetically, we could identify a gene for Schizophrenia? Or Bipolar Disorder? Or Depressive Disorder? Or ADHD? Would you select for those traits if you could genetically engineer your offspring at will? If you wanted to give birth to a creative child, the answer should be yes. The very traits that make someone creative, passionate, and likely to achieve a high degree of success in their domain, are the same traits that define psychological disorders such as Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and ADHD. So what is the difference between creativity and psychopathology? Where do we draw the line between functional excess of extreme traits and the point at which they define a psychological disorder? Is there a discriminating characteristic that separates these two groups? Yes, there is, and it’s called cognitive control, or high executive function. We’ll discuss this more in a bit.
Creativity enhances life. It enables the great thinkers, artists, and leaders of our world to continually push forward new concepts, new forms of expression and new ways to improve every facet of our existence. The creative impulse is of particular importance to scientific research. Without it, the same obstacles, ailments, and solutions would occur repeatedly because no one stepped back and reflected to gain a new perspective. Unfortunately, in the academic world—where much of today’s scientific innovation takes place—researchers are encouraged to maintain the status quo and not “rock the boat.” This mentality is pervasive, affecting all aspects of scientific research from idea generation to funding to the training of the next generation of scientists. (via Opinion: Academia Suppresses Creativity | The Scientist)