Saturday, December 12, 2009

Creativity and the Brain

Quick, look at the letters below and unscramble them to form a word:


Now -- how did you do it? Did you systematically try out different letter patterns, or did you have an "aha" moment when the answer suddenly became clear to you? If it was the former, you used a different part of your brain than if you grasped the word whole. Psychologists say that the second group tends to be more creative.

I have been reading about various personality types in Helen Fisher's WHY HIM? WHY HER? Among other things, the book brings together various research on thought patterns, neurotransmitters, and temperament. Creativity and the easy generation of ideas are linked to specific dopamine pathways, especially of the DRD2 gene.

Heightened creativity is also linked to mood disorders. A study of successful British painters, poets, playwrights, and sculptors found that 30% had received treatment of some sort for mood disorders, compared to 5% of the general population. Poets were the most unstable, which explains a lot about Keats, Byron, and Eliot. Most of the general population, in contrast, was not measuring its lives in coffee spoons.

This book has many more fascinating insights into personality research. It's also -- unlike many books on psychology -- highly readable. Recommended.

And, oh -- the scrambled word above, in case you never got it, is "EXAMPLE."


Lost Wanderer said...

Thank you for the post. I am fascinated by learning more about personality and such, and find psychology books that are readable for a non-scientific person has usually been bit of a challenge. This sounds like a good one. And I happen to be in the second group of people, which I guess is a good thing, since I am a writer.

Brendan said...

Thanks for letting me know what the jumble spelt. I am hopeless with word jumbles.

Criada said...

Hm. I did a bit of both. I picked out the X, figured one of the E's went with it, and then stared blankly at the rest of them until the aha! moment.
-Elizabeth Coleman

Tom Atkins said...

Since many doctors think nearly 30% of the people in the country have emotional/mental disorders at one or more times in their life, maybe we artistic types just get more treatment than the other 25% of so called normal people. It would be an interesting thing to look at any way!

qiihoskeh said...

I couldn't unscramble it because it looks like a perfectly good word as it is.

Nancy Kress said...

gilhoskeh-- LOL!

Petter Joe said...

Hi dear!!Every article have it's own charictaristics. This is one of Short but informative article. You wanted to describe your things in a short manner . Probably you are the successful one.Petter Joe