Monday, November 24, 2008

Your Brain on Creativity

A recent article in the Times asks the question, Can Everyone be an Einstein? The article focuses on the relatively new discipline of neuroscience to explore the ways in which we can mold our own brains, focusing on mental exercises to improve everything from intelligence to creativity.

One of the things that intrigues scientists is the 'aha' moment in creativity that is often referred to as insight. Such a revelation usually arises from what scientists deem as a pattern of thinking where associations are made between seemingly dissimilar thoughts.

"So, with that in mind, answer this question: how many uses can you think of for a brick? Or this: what would happen if people no longer needed to sleep?

These were questions asked in psychological tests specifically designed to measure creativity. They have been attacked as far too subjective. But they do point to a crucial way of defining creativity. If you are now idly imagining dozens of uses for a brick or the novelties of a sleepless world, then you are probably a divergent thinker. If, instead, the questions make you impatient — a brick is for building walls, dammit — then you are a convergent thinker."
  • What kind of thinker are you?

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