August 31, 2014
workshopcookbook:

http://r27.posterous.com/frank-chimero-how-to-have-an-idea
Read the full illustration, it’s a clever overview of idea generation

How to have an idea

workshopcookbook:

http://r27.posterous.com/frank-chimero-how-to-have-an-idea

Read the full illustration, it’s a clever overview of idea generation

How to have an idea

August 31, 2014
workshopcookbook:

The importance of the pre-frontal cortex in changing goals and priorities is evident in this new research.  What is surprising to me is the role of dopamine (the pleasure chemical) in this process.  Does this mean that people are more likely to be able to make decisions for the better and prioritise those decisions better when experiencing a pleasurable situation?  And if you are not in a pleasurable situation, does that mean you are less likely to effectively do so?  In which case stressful business meetings would work against effective decision-making…or am I just mis-using neuroscience!?

neurosciencestuff:

Study Shows Working Memory Is Driven By Prefrontal Cortex And Dopamine
One of the unique features of the human mind is its ability re-prioritize its goals and priorities as situations change and new information arises. This happens when you cancel a planned cruise because you need the money to repair your broke-down car, or when you interrupt your morning jog because your cell phone is ringing in your pocket.
In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers from Princeton University say that they have discovered the mechanisms that control how our brains use new information to modify our existing priorities.
The team of researchers at Princeton’s Neuroscience Institute (PNI) used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan subjects and find out where and how the human brain reprioritizes goals. Unsurprisingly, they found that the shifting of goals takes place in the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain which is known to be associated with a variety of higher-level behaviors. They also observed that the powerful neurotransmitter dopamine – also known as the “pleasure chemical” – appears to play a critical role in this process.
Using a harmless magnetic pulse, the scientists interrupted activity in the prefrontal cortex of the participants while they were playing games and found they were unable to switch to a different task in the game.
“We have found a fundamental mechanism that contributes to the brain’s ability to concentrate on one task and then flexibly switch to another task,” explained Jonathan Cohen, co-director of PNI and the university’s Robert Bendheim and Lynn Bendheim Thoman Professor in Neuroscience.
“Impairments in this system are central to many critical disorders of cognitive function such as those observed in schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder.”
Previous research had already demonstrated that when the brain uses new information to modify its goals or behaviors, this information is temporarily filed away into the brain’s working memory, a type of short-term memory storage. Until now, however, scientists have not understood the mechanisms controlling how this information is updated.


The importance of the pre-frontal cortex in changing goals and priorities is evident in this new research. What is surprising to me is the role of dopamine (the pleasure chemical) in this process. Does this mean that people are more likely to be able to make decisions for the better and prioritise those decisions better when experiencing a pleasurable situation? And if you are not in a pleasurable situation, does that mean you are less likely to effectively do so? In which case stressful business meetings would work against effective decision-making…or am I just mis-using neuroscience!?

workshopcookbook:

The importance of the pre-frontal cortex in changing goals and priorities is evident in this new research.  What is surprising to me is the role of dopamine (the pleasure chemical) in this process.  Does this mean that people are more likely to be able to make decisions for the better and prioritise those decisions better when experiencing a pleasurable situation?  And if you are not in a pleasurable situation, does that mean you are less likely to effectively do so?  In which case stressful business meetings would work against effective decision-making…or am I just mis-using neuroscience!?

neurosciencestuff:

Study Shows Working Memory Is Driven By Prefrontal Cortex And Dopamine

One of the unique features of the human mind is its ability re-prioritize its goals and priorities as situations change and new information arises. This happens when you cancel a planned cruise because you need the money to repair your broke-down car, or when you interrupt your morning jog because your cell phone is ringing in your pocket.

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers from Princeton University say that they have discovered the mechanisms that control how our brains use new information to modify our existing priorities.

The team of researchers at Princeton’s Neuroscience Institute (PNI) used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan subjects and find out where and how the human brain reprioritizes goals. Unsurprisingly, they found that the shifting of goals takes place in the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain which is known to be associated with a variety of higher-level behaviors. They also observed that the powerful neurotransmitter dopamine – also known as the “pleasure chemical” – appears to play a critical role in this process.

Using a harmless magnetic pulse, the scientists interrupted activity in the prefrontal cortex of the participants while they were playing games and found they were unable to switch to a different task in the game.

“We have found a fundamental mechanism that contributes to the brain’s ability to concentrate on one task and then flexibly switch to another task,” explained Jonathan Cohen, co-director of PNI and the university’s Robert Bendheim and Lynn Bendheim Thoman Professor in Neuroscience.

“Impairments in this system are central to many critical disorders of cognitive function such as those observed in schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder.”

Previous research had already demonstrated that when the brain uses new information to modify its goals or behaviors, this information is temporarily filed away into the brain’s working memory, a type of short-term memory storage. Until now, however, scientists have not understood the mechanisms controlling how this information is updated.

The importance of the pre-frontal cortex in changing goals and priorities is evident in this new research. What is surprising to me is the role of dopamine (the pleasure chemical) in this process. Does this mean that people are more likely to be able to make decisions for the better and prioritise those decisions better when experiencing a pleasurable situation? And if you are not in a pleasurable situation, does that mean you are less likely to effectively do so? In which case stressful business meetings would work against effective decision-making…or am I just mis-using neuroscience!?

August 31, 2014
workshopcookbook:

The importance of the pre-frontal cortex in changing goals and priorities is evident in this new research.  What is surprising to me is the role of dopamine (the pleasure chemical) in this process.  Does this mean that people are more likely to be able to make decisions for the better and prioritise those decisions better when experiencing a pleasurable situation?  And if you are not in a pleasurable situation, does that mean you are less likely to effectively do so?  In which case stressful business meetings would work against effective decision-making…or am I just mis-using neuroscience!?

neurosciencestuff:

Study Shows Working Memory Is Driven By Prefrontal Cortex And Dopamine
One of the unique features of the human mind is its ability re-prioritize its goals and priorities as situations change and new information arises. This happens when you cancel a planned cruise because you need the money to repair your broke-down car, or when you interrupt your morning jog because your cell phone is ringing in your pocket.
In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers from Princeton University say that they have discovered the mechanisms that control how our brains use new information to modify our existing priorities.
The team of researchers at Princeton’s Neuroscience Institute (PNI) used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan subjects and find out where and how the human brain reprioritizes goals. Unsurprisingly, they found that the shifting of goals takes place in the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain which is known to be associated with a variety of higher-level behaviors. They also observed that the powerful neurotransmitter dopamine – also known as the “pleasure chemical” – appears to play a critical role in this process.
Using a harmless magnetic pulse, the scientists interrupted activity in the prefrontal cortex of the participants while they were playing games and found they were unable to switch to a different task in the game.
“We have found a fundamental mechanism that contributes to the brain’s ability to concentrate on one task and then flexibly switch to another task,” explained Jonathan Cohen, co-director of PNI and the university’s Robert Bendheim and Lynn Bendheim Thoman Professor in Neuroscience.
“Impairments in this system are central to many critical disorders of cognitive function such as those observed in schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder.”
Previous research had already demonstrated that when the brain uses new information to modify its goals or behaviors, this information is temporarily filed away into the brain’s working memory, a type of short-term memory storage. Until now, however, scientists have not understood the mechanisms controlling how this information is updated.


The importance of the pre-frontal cortex in changing goals and priorities is evident in this new research. What is surprising to me is the role of dopamine (the pleasure chemical) in this process. Does this mean that people are more likely to be able to make decisions for the better and prioritise those decisions better when experiencing a pleasurable situation? And if you are not in a pleasurable situation, does that mean you are less likely to effectively do so? In which case stressful business meetings would work against effective decision-making…or am I just mis-using neuroscience!?

workshopcookbook:

The importance of the pre-frontal cortex in changing goals and priorities is evident in this new research.  What is surprising to me is the role of dopamine (the pleasure chemical) in this process.  Does this mean that people are more likely to be able to make decisions for the better and prioritise those decisions better when experiencing a pleasurable situation?  And if you are not in a pleasurable situation, does that mean you are less likely to effectively do so?  In which case stressful business meetings would work against effective decision-making…or am I just mis-using neuroscience!?

neurosciencestuff:

Study Shows Working Memory Is Driven By Prefrontal Cortex And Dopamine

One of the unique features of the human mind is its ability re-prioritize its goals and priorities as situations change and new information arises. This happens when you cancel a planned cruise because you need the money to repair your broke-down car, or when you interrupt your morning jog because your cell phone is ringing in your pocket.

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers from Princeton University say that they have discovered the mechanisms that control how our brains use new information to modify our existing priorities.

The team of researchers at Princeton’s Neuroscience Institute (PNI) used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan subjects and find out where and how the human brain reprioritizes goals. Unsurprisingly, they found that the shifting of goals takes place in the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain which is known to be associated with a variety of higher-level behaviors. They also observed that the powerful neurotransmitter dopamine – also known as the “pleasure chemical” – appears to play a critical role in this process.

Using a harmless magnetic pulse, the scientists interrupted activity in the prefrontal cortex of the participants while they were playing games and found they were unable to switch to a different task in the game.

“We have found a fundamental mechanism that contributes to the brain’s ability to concentrate on one task and then flexibly switch to another task,” explained Jonathan Cohen, co-director of PNI and the university’s Robert Bendheim and Lynn Bendheim Thoman Professor in Neuroscience.

“Impairments in this system are central to many critical disorders of cognitive function such as those observed in schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder.”

Previous research had already demonstrated that when the brain uses new information to modify its goals or behaviors, this information is temporarily filed away into the brain’s working memory, a type of short-term memory storage. Until now, however, scientists have not understood the mechanisms controlling how this information is updated.

The importance of the pre-frontal cortex in changing goals and priorities is evident in this new research. What is surprising to me is the role of dopamine (the pleasure chemical) in this process. Does this mean that people are more likely to be able to make decisions for the better and prioritise those decisions better when experiencing a pleasurable situation? And if you are not in a pleasurable situation, does that mean you are less likely to effectively do so? In which case stressful business meetings would work against effective decision-making…or am I just mis-using neuroscience!?

August 31, 2014
workshopcookbook:

Idea generation warning!

Create a physical, visual and spatial record of a workshop in real time to create new, powerful and emotional memories for the participants…they will remember the ideas and their commitments far more powerfully after the actual event.

workshopcookbook:

Idea generation warning!

Create a physical, visual and spatial record of a workshop in real time to create new, powerful and emotional memories for the participants…they will remember the ideas and their commitments far more powerfully after the actual event.

August 31, 2014
creativemornings:

"Your creative imagination will always be greater than the technology at your disposal." 
— Jason Galeon

Watch the talk. →

Your creative imagination will always be greater than the technology at your disposal.

creativemornings:

"Your creative imagination will always be greater than the technology at your disposal."
— Jason Galeon

Watch the talk. →

Your creative imagination will always be greater than the technology at your disposal.

August 30, 2014
fastcompany:

The answer to getting more done and leading a balanced life isn’t in beating yourself up about ambitions.
We’ve entered a new paradigm. One in which women, particularly in the West, have greater opportunity than ever before and yet are feeling stressed out, anxious, and exhausted trying to cope with the pressure to succeed in all areas of life. Despite external success, many women have a feeling of not measuring up or being good enough. Other women are leaning in so strongly that they are burning out. It’s a catch-22: how do we lean in without burning out?
Research shows bright girls are particularly likely to see their abilities as innate and unchangeable, and they grow up to be women who are far too hard on themselves—women who will prematurely conclude that they don’t have what it takes to succeed in a particular arena and give up way too soon.
Our experience is that women blame themselves. Therefore, many women are reading Lean In and thinking “Oh, I guess I wasn’t leaning in hard enough, I need to push myself even more.”
Here are the tenets for how to lean in without burning out:
Read More>

Great article on women being authentic in the workplace…and being easier on their expectations for themselves

fastcompany:

The answer to getting more done and leading a balanced life isn’t in beating yourself up about ambitions.

We’ve entered a new paradigm. One in which women, particularly in the West, have greater opportunity than ever before and yet are feeling stressed out, anxious, and exhausted trying to cope with the pressure to succeed in all areas of life. Despite external success, many women have a feeling of not measuring up or being good enough. Other women are leaning in so strongly that they are burning out. It’s a catch-22: how do we lean in without burning out?

Research shows bright girls are particularly likely to see their abilities as innate and unchangeable, and they grow up to be women who are far too hard on themselves—women who will prematurely conclude that they don’t have what it takes to succeed in a particular arena and give up way too soon.

Our experience is that women blame themselves. Therefore, many women are reading Lean In and thinking “Oh, I guess I wasn’t leaning in hard enough, I need to push myself even more.”

Here are the tenets for how to lean in without burning out:

Read More>

Great article on women being authentic in the workplace…and being easier on their expectations for themselves

August 30, 2014
Brand new brain myths to keep neurobloggers in work | Dean Burnett | Science | theguardian.com

Not the first time Susan Greenfield has been questioned for opinion rather than evidence 

wildcat2030:

The recent release of Susan Greenfield’s new book and the film Lucy, both of which are dependent on tired misconceptions or dubious theories about the brain, suggest one worrying conclusion: we are running out of myths about the brain. So here are some new ones, to keep things ‘mysterious’
-
One of the best things about being a neuroscientist used to be the aura of mystery around it. It was once so mysterious that some people didn’t even know it was a thing. When I first went to university and people asked what I studied, they thought I was saying I was a “Euroscientist”, which is presumably someone who studies the science of Europe. I’d get weird questions such as “what do you think of Belgium?” and I’d have to admit that, in all honesty, I never think of Belgium. That’s how mysterious neuroscience was, once. Of course, you could say this confusion was due to my dense Welsh accent, or the fact that I only had the confidence to talk to strangers after consuming a fair amount of alcohol, but I prefer to go with the mystery. It’s not like that any more. Neuroscience is “mainstream” now, to the point where the press coverage of it can be studied extensively. When there’s such a thing as Neuromarketing (well, there isn’t actually such a thing, but there’s a whole industry that would claim otherwise), it’s impossible to maintain that neuroscience is “cool” or “edgy”. It’s a bad time for us neurohipsters (which are the same as regular hipsters, except the designer beards are on the frontal lobes rather than the jaw-line). One way that we professional neuroscientists could maintain our superiority was by correcting misconceptions about the brain, but lately even that avenue looks to be closing to us. The recent film Lucy is based on the most classic brain misconception: that we only use 10% of our brain. But it’s had a considerable amount of flack for this already, suggesting that many people are wise to this myth. We also saw the recent release of Susan Greenfield’s new book Mind Change, all about how technology is changing (damaging?) our brains. This is a worryingly evidence-free but very common claim by Greenfield. Depressingly common, as this blog has pointed out many times. But now even the non-neuroscientist reviewers aren’t buying her claims.

March 21, 2014
creativemornings:

"Your creative imagination will always be greater than the technology at your disposal." 
— Jason Galeon

Watch the talk. →

creativemornings:

"Your creative imagination will always be greater than the technology at your disposal."
— Jason Galeon

Watch the talk. →

February 18, 2014
neurosciencestuff:

The Real Link Between Creativity and Mental Illness

“There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad.” —Salvador Dali

The romantic notion that mental illness and creativity are linked is so prominent in the public consciousness that it is rarely challenged. So before I continue, let me nip this in the bud: Mental illness is neither necessary nor sufficient for creativity.
The oft-cited studies by Kay Redfield Jamison, Nancy Andreasen, and Arnold Ludwig showing a link between mental illness and creativity have been criticized on the grounds that they involve small, highly specialized samples with weak and inconsistent methodologies and a strong dependence on subjective and anecdotal accounts.
To be sure, research does show that many eminent creators– particularly in the arts–had harsh early life experiences (such as social rejection, parental loss, or physical disability) and mental and emotional instability. However, this does not mean that mental illness was a contributing factor to their eminence. There are many eminent people without mental illness or harsh early life experiences, and there is very little evidence suggesting that clinical, debilitating mental illness is conducive to productivity and innovation.
What’s more, only a few of us ever reach eminence. Thankfully for the rest of us, there are different levels of creativity. James C. Kaufman and Ronald Beghetto argue that we can display creativity in many different ways, from the creativity inherent in the learning process (“mini-c”), to everyday forms of creativity (“little-c”) to professional-level expertise in any creative endeavor (“Pro-c”), to eminent creativity (“Big-C”).
Engagement in everyday forms of creativity– expressions of originality and meaningfulness in daily life– certainly do not require suffering. Quite the contrary, my colleague and friend Zorana Ivcevic Pringle found that people who engaged in everyday forms of creativity– such as making a collage, taking photographs, or publishing in a literary magazine– tended to be more open-minded, curious, persistent, positive, energetic, and intrinsically motivated by their activity. Those scoring high in everyday creativity also reported feeling a greater sense of well-being and personal growth compared to their classmates who engaged less in everyday creative behaviors. Creating can also be therapeutic for those who are already suffering. For instance, research shows that expressive writing increases immune system functioning, and the emerging field of posttraumatic growth is showing how people can turn adversity into creative growth.
So is there any germ of truth to the link between creativity and mental illness? The latest research suggests there is something to the link, but the truth is much more interesting. Let’s dive in.
The Real Link Between Creativity and Mental Illness


In a recent report based on a 40-year study of roughly 1.2 million Swedish people, Simon Kyaga and colleagues found that with the exception of bi-polar disorder, those in scientific and artistic occupations were not more likely to suffer from psychiatric disorders. So full-blown mental illness did not increase the probability of entering a creative profession (even the exception, bi-polar disorder, showed only a small effect of 8%).
What was striking, however, was that the siblings of patients with autism and the first-degree relatives of patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and anorexia nervosa were significantly overrepresented in creative professions. Could it be that the relatives inherited a watered-down version of the mental illness conducive to creativity while avoiding the aspects that are debilitating?
Research supports the notion that psychologically healthy biological relatives of people with schizophrenia have unusually creative jobs and hobbies and tend to show higher levels of schizotypal personality traits compared to the general population. Note that schizotypy is not schizophrenia. Schizotypy consists of a constellation of personality traits that are evident in some degree in everyone.
Schizotypal traits can be broken down into two types. “Positive” schizotypy includes unusual perceptual experiences, thin mental boundaries between self and other, impulsive nonconformity, and magical beliefs. “Negative” schizotypal traits include cognitive disorganization and physical and social anhedonia (difficulty experiencing pleasure from social interactions and activities that are enjoyable for most people). Daniel Nettle found that people with schizotypy typically resemble schizophrenia patients much more along the positive schizotypal dimensions (such as unusual experiences) compared to the negative schizotypal dimensions (such as lack of affect and volition).


This has important implications for creativity. Mark Batey and Adrian Furnham found that the unusual experiences and impulsive nonconformity dimensions of schizotypy, but not the cognitive disorganization dimension, were significantly related to self-ratings of creativity, a creative personality (measured by a checklist of adjectives such as “confident,” “individualistic,” “insightful,” “wide interests,” “original,” “reflective,” “resourceful,” “unconventional,” and “sexy”), and everyday creative achievement among thirty-four activities (“written a short story,” “produced your own website,” “composed a piece of music,” and so forth).
Recent neuroscience findings support the link between schizotypy and creative cognition. Hikaru Takeuchi and colleagues investigated the functional brain characteristics of participants while they engaged in a difficult working memory task. Importantly, none of their subjects had a history of neurological or psychiatric illness, and all had intact working memory abilities. Participants were asked to display their creativity in a number of ways: generating unique ways of using typical objects, imagining desirable functions in ordinary objects and imagining the consequences of “unimaginable things” happening.
The researchers found that the more creative the participant, the more they had difficulty suppressing the precuneus while engaging in an effortful working memory task. The precuneus is the area of the Default Mode Network that typically displays the highest levels of activation during rest (when a person is not focusing on an external task). The precuneus has been linked to self-consciousness, self-related mental representations, and the retrieval of personal memories. How is this conducive to creativity? According to the researchers, “Such an inability to suppress seemingly unnecessary cognitive activity may actually help creative subjects in associating two ideas represented in different networks.”
Prior research shows a similar inability to deactivate the precuneus among schizophrenic individuals and their relatives. Which raises the intriguing question: what  happens if we directly compare the brains of creative people against the brains of people with schizotypy?
Enter a hot-off-the-press study by Andreas Fink and colleagues. Consistent with the earlier study, they found an association between the ability to come up with original ideas and the inability to suppress activation of the precuneus during creative thinking. As the researchers note, these findings are consistent with the idea that more creative people include more events/stimuli in their mental processes than less creative people. But crucially, they found that those scoring high in schizotypy showed a similar pattern of brain activations during creative thinking as the highly creative participants, supporting the idea that overlapping mental processes are implicated in both creativity and psychosis proneness.
It seems that the key to creative cognition is opening up the flood gates and letting in as much information as possible. Because you never know: sometimes the most bizarre associations can turn into the most productively creative ideas. Indeed, Shelley Carson and her colleagues found that the most eminent creative achievers among a sample of Harvard undergrads were seven times more likely to have reduced latent inhibition. In other research, they found that students with reduced latent inhibition scored higher in openness to experience, and in my own research I’ve found that reduced latent inhibition is associated with a faith in intuition.
What is latent inhibition? Latent inhibition is a filtering mechanism that we share with other animals, and it is tied to the neurotransmitter dopamine. A reduced latent inhibition allows us to treat something as novel, no matter how may times we’ve seen it before and tagged it as irrelevant. Prior research shows a link  between reduced latent inhibition and schizophrenia. But as Shelley Carson points out in her “Shared Vulnerability Model,” vulnerable mental processes such as reduced latent inhibition, preference for novelty, hyperconnectivity, and perseveration can interact with protective factors, such as enhanced fluid reasoning, working memory, cognitive inhibition, and cognitive flexibility, to “enlarge the range and depth of stimuli available in conscious awareness to be manipulated and combined to form novel and original ideas.”
Which brings us to the real link between creativity and mental illness.
The latest research suggests that mental illness may be most conductive to creativity indirectly, by enabling the relatives of those inflicted to open their mental flood gates but maintain the protective factors necessary to steer the chaotic, potentially creative storm.

neurosciencestuff:

The Real Link Between Creativity and Mental Illness

“There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad.” —Salvador Dali

The romantic notion that mental illness and creativity are linked is so prominent in the public consciousness that it is rarely challenged. So before I continue, let me nip this in the bud: Mental illness is neither necessary nor sufficient for creativity.

The oft-cited studies by Kay Redfield Jamison, Nancy Andreasen, and Arnold Ludwig showing a link between mental illness and creativity have been criticized on the grounds that they involve small, highly specialized samples with weak and inconsistent methodologies and a strong dependence on subjective and anecdotal accounts.

To be sure, research does show that many eminent creators– particularly in the arts–had harsh early life experiences (such as social rejection, parental loss, or physical disability) and mental and emotional instability. However, this does not mean that mental illness was a contributing factor to their eminence. There are many eminent people without mental illness or harsh early life experiences, and there is very little evidence suggesting that clinical, debilitating mental illness is conducive to productivity and innovation.

What’s more, only a few of us ever reach eminence. Thankfully for the rest of us, there are different levels of creativity. James C. Kaufman and Ronald Beghetto argue that we can display creativity in many different ways, from the creativity inherent in the learning process (“mini-c”), to everyday forms of creativity (“little-c”) to professional-level expertise in any creative endeavor (“Pro-c”), to eminent creativity (“Big-C”).

Engagement in everyday forms of creativity– expressions of originality and meaningfulness in daily life– certainly do not require suffering. Quite the contrary, my colleague and friend Zorana Ivcevic Pringle found that people who engaged in everyday forms of creativity– such as making a collage, taking photographs, or publishing in a literary magazine– tended to be more open-minded, curious, persistent, positive, energetic, and intrinsically motivated by their activity. Those scoring high in everyday creativity also reported feeling a greater sense of well-being and personal growth compared to their classmates who engaged less in everyday creative behaviors. Creating can also be therapeutic for those who are already suffering. For instance, research shows that expressive writing increases immune system functioning, and the emerging field of posttraumatic growth is showing how people can turn adversity into creative growth.

So is there any germ of truth to the link between creativity and mental illness? The latest research suggests there is something to the link, but the truth is much more interesting. Let’s dive in.

The Real Link Between Creativity and Mental Illness

In a recent report based on a 40-year study of roughly 1.2 million Swedish people, Simon Kyaga and colleagues found that with the exception of bi-polar disorder, those in scientific and artistic occupations were not more likely to suffer from psychiatric disorders. So full-blown mental illness did not increase the probability of entering a creative profession (even the exception, bi-polar disorder, showed only a small effect of 8%).

What was striking, however, was that the siblings of patients with autism and the first-degree relatives of patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and anorexia nervosa were significantly overrepresented in creative professions. Could it be that the relatives inherited a watered-down version of the mental illness conducive to creativity while avoiding the aspects that are debilitating?

Research supports the notion that psychologically healthy biological relatives of people with schizophrenia have unusually creative jobs and hobbies and tend to show higher levels of schizotypal personality traits compared to the general population. Note that schizotypy is not schizophrenia. Schizotypy consists of a constellation of personality traits that are evident in some degree in everyone.

Schizotypal traits can be broken down into two types. “Positive” schizotypy includes unusual perceptual experiences, thin mental boundaries between self and other, impulsive nonconformity, and magical beliefs. “Negative” schizotypal traits include cognitive disorganization and physical and social anhedonia (difficulty experiencing pleasure from social interactions and activities that are enjoyable for most people). Daniel Nettle found that people with schizotypy typically resemble schizophrenia patients much more along the positive schizotypal dimensions (such as unusual experiences) compared to the negative schizotypal dimensions (such as lack of affect and volition).

This has important implications for creativity. Mark Batey and Adrian Furnham found that the unusual experiences and impulsive nonconformity dimensions of schizotypy, but not the cognitive disorganization dimension, were significantly related to self-ratings of creativity, a creative personality (measured by a checklist of adjectives such as “confident,” “individualistic,” “insightful,” “wide interests,” “original,” “reflective,” “resourceful,” “unconventional,” and “sexy”), and everyday creative achievement among thirty-four activities (“written a short story,” “produced your own website,” “composed a piece of music,” and so forth).

Recent neuroscience findings support the link between schizotypy and creative cognition. Hikaru Takeuchi and colleagues investigated the functional brain characteristics of participants while they engaged in a difficult working memory task. Importantly, none of their subjects had a history of neurological or psychiatric illness, and all had intact working memory abilities. Participants were asked to display their creativity in a number of ways: generating unique ways of using typical objects, imagining desirable functions in ordinary objects and imagining the consequences of “unimaginable things” happening.

The researchers found that the more creative the participant, the more they had difficulty suppressing the precuneus while engaging in an effortful working memory task. The precuneus is the area of the Default Mode Network that typically displays the highest levels of activation during rest (when a person is not focusing on an external task). The precuneus has been linked to self-consciousness, self-related mental representations, and the retrieval of personal memories. How is this conducive to creativity? According to the researchers, “Such an inability to suppress seemingly unnecessary cognitive activity may actually help creative subjects in associating two ideas represented in different networks.”

Prior research shows a similar inability to deactivate the precuneus among schizophrenic individuals and their relatives. Which raises the intriguing question: what  happens if we directly compare the brains of creative people against the brains of people with schizotypy?

Enter a hot-off-the-press study by Andreas Fink and colleagues. Consistent with the earlier study, they found an association between the ability to come up with original ideas and the inability to suppress activation of the precuneus during creative thinking. As the researchers note, these findings are consistent with the idea that more creative people include more events/stimuli in their mental processes than less creative people. But crucially, they found that those scoring high in schizotypy showed a similar pattern of brain activations during creative thinking as the highly creative participants, supporting the idea that overlapping mental processes are implicated in both creativity and psychosis proneness.

It seems that the key to creative cognition is opening up the flood gates and letting in as much information as possible. Because you never know: sometimes the most bizarre associations can turn into the most productively creative ideas. Indeed, Shelley Carson and her colleagues found that the most eminent creative achievers among a sample of Harvard undergrads were seven times more likely to have reduced latent inhibition. In other research, they found that students with reduced latent inhibition scored higher in openness to experience, and in my own research I’ve found that reduced latent inhibition is associated with a faith in intuition.

What is latent inhibition? Latent inhibition is a filtering mechanism that we share with other animals, and it is tied to the neurotransmitter dopamine. A reduced latent inhibition allows us to treat something as novel, no matter how may times we’ve seen it before and tagged it as irrelevant. Prior research shows a link  between reduced latent inhibition and schizophrenia. But as Shelley Carson points out in her “Shared Vulnerability Model,” vulnerable mental processes such as reduced latent inhibition, preference for novelty, hyperconnectivity, and perseveration can interact with protective factors, such as enhanced fluid reasoning, working memory, cognitive inhibition, and cognitive flexibility, to “enlarge the range and depth of stimuli available in conscious awareness to be manipulated and combined to form novel and original ideas.”

Which brings us to the real link between creativity and mental illness.

The latest research suggests that mental illness may be most conductive to creativity indirectly, by enabling the relatives of those inflicted to open their mental flood gates but maintain the protective factors necessary to steer the chaotic, potentially creative storm.

February 10, 2014
jtotheizzoe:

I stared at this GIF explaining how a four-stroke piston engine works for far longer than I care to admit.
One day you’ll have to explain to your kids that this is how we powered our cars. I imagine they’ll be all: “Whaaaa? You used the combustion of aerosolized dinosaur extractions to drive your car? The old days were weird, mom/dad.” (they will text you that of course, from their Google Glass).

jtotheizzoe:

I stared at this GIF explaining how a four-stroke piston engine works for far longer than I care to admit.

One day you’ll have to explain to your kids that this is how we powered our cars. I imagine they’ll be all: “Whaaaa? You used the combustion of aerosolized dinosaur extractions to drive your car? The old days were weird, mom/dad.” (they will text you that of course, from their Google Glass).

February 9, 2014
wired:

nprplays:

Life is a game. This is your strategy guide

"You might not realise, but real life is a game of strategy. There are some fun mini-games – like dancing, driving, running, and sex – but the key to winning is simply managing your resources.
Most importantly, successful players put their time into the right things. Later in the game money comes into play, but your top priority should always be mastering where your time goes.”

This post from one of my favorite Internet people, Oliver Emberton, is great. Sure, life really can’t be boiled down so easily but this is a fun pseudo strategy guide framed around cute video game tropes.
I found the section on “Finding A Partner” to be particularly accurate:

"Attraction is a complex mini-game in itself, but mostly a byproduct of how you’re already playing. If you have excellent state and high skills, you’re far more attractive already. A tired, irritable, unskilled player is not appealing, and probably shouldn’t be looking for a relationship.
Early in the game it can be common to reject and be rejected by other players. This is normal, but unfortunately it can drain your state, as most players don’t handle rejection or rejecting well. You’ll need to expend willpower to keep going, and willpower is replenished by sleep, so give it time.”

Go check out the whole post, which is full of great illustrations and fun, video game-laden writing.

HAPPY WEEKEND! Here’s a fun read to bring you out of the work week.

Life is a game!

wired:

nprplays:

Life is a game. This is your strategy guide

"You might not realise, but real life is a game of strategy. There are some fun mini-games – like dancing, driving, running, and sex – but the key to winning is simply managing your resources.

Most importantly, successful players put their time into the right things. Later in the game money comes into play, but your top priority should always be mastering where your time goes.”

This post from one of my favorite Internet people, Oliver Emberton, is great. Sure, life really can’t be boiled down so easily but this is a fun pseudo strategy guide framed around cute video game tropes.

I found the section on “Finding A Partner” to be particularly accurate:

"Attraction is a complex mini-game in itself, but mostly a byproduct of how you’re already playing. If you have excellent state and high skills, you’re far more attractive already. A tired, irritable, unskilled player is not appealing, and probably shouldn’t be looking for a relationship.

Early in the game it can be common to reject and be rejected by other players. This is normal, but unfortunately it can drain your state, as most players don’t handle rejection or rejecting well. You’ll need to expend willpower to keep going, and willpower is replenished by sleep, so give it time.”

Go check out the whole post, which is full of great illustrations and fun, video game-laden writing.

HAPPY WEEKEND! Here’s a fun read to bring you out of the work week.

Life is a game!

February 9, 2014
"Women invented all the core technologies that made civilization possible. This isn’t some feminist myth; it’s what modern anthropologists believe. Women are thought to have invented pottery, basketmaking, weaving, textiles, horticulture, and agriculture. That’s right: without women’s inventions, we wouldn’t be able to carry things or store things or tie things up or go fishing or hunt with nets or haft a blade or wear clothes or grow our food or live in permanent settlements. Suck on that.

Women have continued to be involved in the creation and advancement of civilization throughout history, whether you know it or not. Pick anything—a technology, a science, an art form, a school of thought—and start digging into the background. You’ll find women there, I guarantee, making critical contributions and often inventing the damn shit in the first place.

Women have made those contributions in spite of astonishing hurdles. Hurdles like not being allowed to go to school. Hurdles like not being allowed to work in an office with men, or join a professional society, or walk on the street, or own property. Example: look up Lise Meitner some time. When she was born in 1878 it was illegal in Austria for girls to attend school past the age of 13. Once the laws finally eased up and she could go to university, she wasn’t allowed to study with the men. Then she got a research post but wasn’t allowed to use the lab on account of girl cooties. Her whole life was like this, but she still managed to discover nuclear fucking fission. Then the Nobel committee gave the prize to her junior male colleague and ignored her existence completely.

Men in all patriarchal civilizations, including ours, have worked to downplay or deny women’s creative contributions. That’s because patriarchy is founded on the belief that women are breeding stock and men are the only people who can think. The easiest way for men to erase women’s contributions is to simply ignore that they happened. Because when you ignore something, it gets forgotten. People in the next generation don’t hear about it, and so they grow up thinking that no women have ever done anything. And then when women in their generation do stuff, they think ‘it’s a fluke, never happened before in the history of the world, ignore it.’ And so they ignore it, and it gets forgotten. And on and on and on. The New York Times article is a perfect illustration of this principle in action.

Finally, and this is important: even those women who weren’t inventors and intellectuals, even those women who really did spend all their lives doing stereotypical “women’s work”—they also built this world. The mundane labor of life is what makes everything else possible. Before you can have scientists and engineers and artists, you have to have a whole bunch of people (and it’s usually women) to hold down the basics: to grow and harvest and cook the food, to provide clothes and shelter, to fetch the firewood and the water, to nurture and nurse, to tend and teach. Every single scrap of civilized inventing and dreaming and thinking rides on top of that foundation. Never forget that."

Violet Socks, Patriarchy in Action: The New York Times Rewrites History (via o1sv)

Reblogging again for that paragraph because that is the part we forget the most.

(via girlwiki)

(Source: sendforbromina, via emergentfutures)

February 9, 2014
newyorker:

Why are we still on Facebook, ten years later? Maria Konnikova investigates: http://nyr.kr/1ipZ8gM

“While the reasons for joining and using Facebook were not entirely homogenous, one factor kept emerging as the strongest motivation for use: the desire to keep in touch with friends. Sure, some people joined because of social pressure or expediency, but the overwhelming majority of users were looking for something much more fundamental: social connection.”

Photograph: The Asahi Shimbun/Getty.


Why Facebook still exists: elevating our capability to groom our friends more publicly.

newyorker:

Why are we still on Facebook, ten years later? Maria Konnikova investigates: http://nyr.kr/1ipZ8gM

“While the reasons for joining and using Facebook were not entirely homogenous, one factor kept emerging as the strongest motivation for use: the desire to keep in touch with friends. Sure, some people joined because of social pressure or expediency, but the overwhelming majority of users were looking for something much more fundamental: social connection.”

Photograph: The Asahi Shimbun/Getty.

Why Facebook still exists: elevating our capability to groom our friends more publicly.

(Source: newyorker.com, via emergentfutures)

November 28, 2013
Searching for Collective Intelligence rather than Collective Stupidity!

"Part of what I want to understand and part of what the people I’m working with want to understand is what are the conditions that lead to collective intelligence rather than collective stupidity". 

October 12, 2013
The Art of Looking

Wonderful article on attention, intention and everyday awareness

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