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Inside 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
http://Inside-the-brain.com/
THE BRAIN’S VITAL STATISTICS
  Adult weight


   Adult size


                         Number of neurons
                       About 100 billion neurons



Number 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 people
1. Energy & drive yet sleeps a lot
2. Smart yet naïve
3. Playful yet disciplined
4. Imaginative yet rooted in reality
5. Introverted yet extraverted
6. Shy yet assertive
7. Male yet female - tolerance of ambiguity
8. Rebellious yet conservative
9. Willingness to take risks
10.Passionate yet objective
11.Aware of the importance of luck
12.Not interested in past accomplishments
13.A sensitivity to pain & loss
CREATIVITY INVOLVES MAKING DECISIONS
The 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)
                                                                 MATURE




This 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 aging
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A 104(13):5638-43 (2007).   http://www.sfn.org/index.aspx?pagename=publications_rd_alzheimers


Exercise increases ‘neurogenesis’ (growth              Warmer colours indicate higher levels of
of neurons) in the hippocampus - a region              nerve growth factor in the hippocampus
important for memory and implicated in                 of [A] exercising animals compared to
cognitive aging.                                       [B] sedentary animals - blue indicates
                                                       the lowest level.
ATTITUDE
CREATIVITY & MENTAL
            HEALTH
      Man’s search for meaning

The 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 meaning
1. 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

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Inside The Creative Brain

  • 1. http://creativethumbl.jpg Inside 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
  • 3. THE BRAIN’S VITAL STATISTICS Adult weight Adult size Number of neurons About 100 billion neurons Number of synapses About 100 trillion
  • 4. HOW DO WE ACQUIRE CREATIVITY? Certain parts of the brain govern specific functions
  • 5. 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
  • 6. CREATIVE TRAITS Creativity : The work and lives of 91 eminent people 1. Energy & drive yet sleeps a lot 2. Smart yet naïve 3. Playful yet disciplined 4. Imaginative yet rooted in reality 5. Introverted yet extraverted 6. Shy yet assertive 7. Male yet female - tolerance of ambiguity 8. Rebellious yet conservative 9. Willingness to take risks 10.Passionate yet objective 11.Aware of the importance of luck 12.Not interested in past accomplishments 13.A sensitivity to pain & loss
  • 7. CREATIVITY INVOLVES MAKING DECISIONS The 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) MATURE This brain area matures later in humans compared with other brain areas. Thus education and mentoring is essential for young innovators.
  • 8. WHY DOES THE BRAIN SEEK CREATIVITY? Creativity in a crisis – the hallmark of the human condition
  • 9. CAN DRUGS ENHANCE CREATIVITY? Dentrite Soma Axon Terminal
  • 10. CAN EXERCISE ENHANCE CREATIVITY? Areas affected in AD Areas affected by normal aging Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A 104(13):5638-43 (2007). http://www.sfn.org/index.aspx?pagename=publications_rd_alzheimers Exercise increases ‘neurogenesis’ (growth Warmer colours indicate higher levels of of neurons) in the hippocampus - a region nerve growth factor in the hippocampus important for memory and implicated in of [A] exercising animals compared to cognitive aging. [B] sedentary animals - blue indicates the lowest level.
  • 12. CREATIVITY & MENTAL HEALTH Man’s search for meaning The 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 meaning 1. Creating a work, doing a deed. 2. Experiencing something or encountering someone, love. 3. Our approach to suffering.
  • 13. "I am neither especially clever nor especially gifted. I am only very, very curious." -Albert Einstein
  • 14. INSIDE THE CREATIVE BRAIN Discussion & Questions