Creativity and some Neuroscience

Barry J. Schwartz, Ph.D. (aka Simon Blackthorn) Before I began doing comedy, I taught college classes and did research in the neurosciences – propelled initially by curiosity about the creative process. I am happy to say that things in the neurosciences have been getting much friendlier for the study of creativity.   One thing we know:  creativity and creative insight is a special interplay between the unguided subconscious part of the mind, and the deliberate, story telling, logical, conscious portion of mentality.   We are learning more about the conditions of this process in humans and, not surprisingly, in other animals too.   They have cognition but not conceptual language, and they too are inventive, playful, and insightful in their own way, as we might have suspected all along. Neuroscience has been a late entry into the discussion on creativity because of several older influences: 1) Behaviorism; 2) Freud; and 3) the computer model (or Artificial Intelligence). Back in the 1960’s when I began as an undergrad, Behaviorism was in fashion. They denied that mentality of any kind could be the object of science.  They are no longer listened to very much, but they once dominated the university scene.  Their discouraging influence lives on however in the design of our government schools, which followed the behaviorist blueprint. Enough said (for now). A second hindrance to the study of creativity was the influence...

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