Archives for Neuroscience
How can meditation help us be more creative? Can biofeedback technology help us meditate more effectively? In their book on creativity research, Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire make a number of references to meditation and creativity. For example, they note: "Steve Jobs has even said that meditation — which he studied with Zen master Shunryū Suzuki, author of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind — was the main source of his creativity."
Does being calm or happy help us be creative? Does feeling sad or anxious always inhibit creative thinking? Some researchers find that "mixing together both positive and negative emotions can help facilitate creativity" - as noted in the book "Wired to Create" - more on that below. One example of a creative person with an emotionally complex life is humanitarian, actor and author Ashley Judd, who is also a United Nations / UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador.
In his book “Literature and the Brain,” Professor Norman N. Holland details how we may respond so deeply in both creating and experiencing literature – novels, plays, poems, tv and movies – and the neuropsychology underlying our often intense engagement with stories and characters. Holland comments on one primal story that so many of us enjoy:
Photorealist painting is one form of creative expression that demands a high degree of technical prowess and attention to detail - which may be enhanced by the personality trait of high sensitivity. A profile on the artist notes that Ralph Goings "is a pioneer in the Photo Realist Movement.
"Poor sensory gating, the ability to filter unnecessary stimuli from the brain, correlated with a higher number of lifetime creative achievements." Being a highly sensitive person may include letting an unusually high level of information in to our nervous systems, which can lead to feeling overwhelmed by emotional and sensory input at times, but may also help explain why sensitive people are often artists and creators.
Highly sensitive people are considered by many to be exceptionally creative as a group. Psychologist Elaine Aron even declares “I know ALL HSPs are creative, by definition." The personality trait (technically referred to as sensory processing sensitivity, SPS) may show up in curious ways for some of us who are highly sensitive.
"The very impulse to write, I think, springs from an inner chaos crying for order, for meaning, and that meaning must be discovered in the process of writing or the work lies dead as it is finished." Arthur Miller Creative people and writers about the creative process often say creative work is a way to release or make use of inner chaos; what is this turmoil? Psychologist Stephen Diamond declares in his book that our impulse to be creative "can be understood to some degree as the subjective struggle to give form, structure and constructive expression to inner and outer chaos and conflict."
"I don't think necessity is the mother of invention. Invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness - to save oneself trouble." Agatha Christie [via brainyquote.com] We may feel pressured to stay busy and keep producing, but is there some value for developing creativity in being, if not lazy, at least idle for a time?
A number of psychologists note that many personality traits connected with ADD and ADHD are also associated with highly creative people. This is a topic I have addressed in previous Creative Mind posts, but here are some new perspectives, inspired by a documentary by Lisa Ling who was diagnosed with ADD during the course of her research for the project. She commented, “As a journalist, when I’m immersed in a story, then I feel like I can laser-focus. But if I’m not working, my mind goes in every direction but where it’s supposed to go. I’ve been like that since I was a kid.”
With more and more brain imaging studies in the media, relating to different areas of human behavior including being creative, it is worth noting there are critiques of the validity and meaning of imaging technology. The image is from an article whose authors comment, "The brain is said to be the final scientific frontier, and rightly so in our view. "Yet, in many quarters, brain-based explanations appear to be granted a kind of inherent superiority over all other ways of accounting for human behaviour. “We call this assumption ‘neurocentrism’ – the view that human experience and behaviour can be best explained from the predominant or even exclusive perspective of the brain.”