http://creativethumbl.jpgInside the Creative Brain Professor Billy O’Connor William.OConnor@UL.ie Head of Teaching and Research in Physiology Graduate Entry Medical School University of Limerick Ireland
THE BRAIN’S VITAL STATISTICS Adult weight Adult size Number of neurons About 100 billion neuronsNumber of synapses About 100 trillion
HOW DO WE ACQUIRE CREATIVITY?Certain parts of the brain govern specific functions
THE BRAIN IS SHAPED BY ENVIRONMENT Enriched enviornment Deprived environment = Challenge, = Avoidance,autonomy, complexity, a connection dependence, monotony, isolation, between reward and effort. low expectations. Credit: NYU Langone Medical Center
CREATIVE TRAITS Creativity : The work and lives of 91 eminent people1. Energy & drive yet sleeps a lot2. Smart yet naïve3. Playful yet disciplined4. Imaginative yet rooted in reality5. Introverted yet extraverted6. Shy yet assertive7. Male yet female - tolerance of ambiguity8. Rebellious yet conservative9. Willingness to take risks10.Passionate yet objective11.Aware of the importance of luck12.Not interested in past accomplishments13.A sensitivity to pain & loss
CREATIVITY INVOLVES MAKING DECISIONSThe orbitofrontal cortex (arrow) responds to mistakes that change behaviour. The feeling that things have turned out differently than expected. The feeling that a decision needs to be made. IMMATURE (UPSIDE DOWN VIEW) MATUREThis brain area matures later in humans compared with other brain areas.Thus education and mentoring is essential for young innovators.
WHY DOES THE BRAIN SEEK CREATIVITY?Creativity in a crisis – the hallmark of the human condition
CAN DRUGS ENHANCE CREATIVITY? Dentrite Soma Axon Terminal
CAN EXERCISE ENHANCE CREATIVITY? Areas affected in AD Areas affected by normal agingProc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A 104(13):5638-43 (2007). http://www.sfn.org/index.aspx?pagename=publications_rd_alzheimersExercise increases ‘neurogenesis’ (growth Warmer colours indicate higher levels ofof neurons) in the hippocampus - a region nerve growth factor in the hippocampusimportant for memory and implicated in of [A] exercising animals compared tocognitive aging. [B] sedentary animals - blue indicates the lowest level.
CREATIVITY & MENTAL HEALTH Man’s search for meaningThe outstanding feature of human beings is free will. ‘He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.’ Nietzsche.’Logotherapy = the will to meaning (purpose)The three ways to meaning1. Creating a work, doing a deed.2. Experiencing something or encountering someone, love.3. Our approach to suffering.
"I am neither especially clever nor especially gifted. I am only very, very curious." -Albert Einstein
INSIDE THE CREATIVE BRAIN Discussion & Questions