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Secrets of the Creative Brain

The Findings On IQ

The extensive studies had some ground-breaking findings at that time, like:

  • Being the youngest student in a grade predicted a high IQ.
  • A high IQ was not a factor of a writer's creativity.
  • A high IQ did not predict creative achievement later in life.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Secrets of the Creative Brain

Secrets of the Creative Brain

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/07/secrets-of-the-creative-brain/372299/

theatlantic.com

13

Key Ideas

Early History

The connection between genius and possible insanity was first documented in 1891 in the Italian physicians’ book The Man Of Genius.

In 1869, this was taken up by the cousin of Charles Darwin, Francis Galton in his work Hereditary Genius.

Genius and Heredity

In a 1904 study by English physician Havelock Ellis, a list was made of 1030 individuals through extensive research, examining thoroughly the intellectual distinction people had by the various factors like heredity, general health, and social class.


These works established that genius minds are often hereditary.

Genetic Studies Of Genius

A body of work of Stanford psychologist Lewis M. Terman, was an in-depth multi-decade study of gifted individuals, and an attempt to improve the measurement of genius and its association with the degradation of mental stability. This also included an enhanced version of the French IQ (Intelligence Quotient) test.

The Findings On IQ

The extensive studies had some ground-breaking findings at that time, like:

  • Being the youngest student in a grade predicted a high IQ.
  • A high IQ was not a factor of a writer's creativity.
  • A high IQ did not predict creative achievement later in life.

The Inner Workings Of Creativity

The very definition of creativity is being bent and reshaped in various studies. The two kinds of thinking that emerged were:

  • Divergent Thinking: The ability to produce multiple responses to the probe.
  • Convergent Thinking: The ability to produce one correct answer to problems that have only one answer.

History tells us that some of mankind’s most creative achievements have been the result of convergent thinking, like the discovery of gravity or the properties of Energy(E=mc2)

Big C Little C

  • The study of already established geniuses is known as the ‘Duck Test’, as it focuses on people who are already different from the general population. This is referred to as the Big C.

  • The study approach of ‘little c’ takes the opposite approach and develops quantitative assessments of creativity in a much wider group, over a period of time.

The Eureka Moment Takes Years

As the brain has as many neurons as the stars in the Milky Way, the capturing of human mental processes can be a daunting task.

Creativity is not a one-shot singular experience, and cannot be captured in a ‘Eureka’ moment. It cannot be produced at a high or consistent rate, on-demand. It is a natural process that takes years or decades to fully form inside the mind, taking inputs from a variety of diverse sources and experiences.

The Complex Mind

... has various layers of nerve cells, their dendrites. These regions, whose functions are manifold consist of the primary visual, auditory, sensory and motor cortices. Apart from these basic internal decoders, there are the association cortices which help us sort and filter the information received, helping the brain form out a ‘verbal lexicon’ of associated meanings and memories.

The verbal lexicon differs in individuals with different creative output, with highly creative ones having rich and complex cortical connections.

The Need To Relax

The wild, explosive findings are a product of the lull, relaxed mindset, with long periods of preparation, gestation and incubation.

Writers routinely talk about being in a trance while writing, with the association cortices being wildly active. It’s like your mind is connected to a giant mountain of creativity, and is taking a small fragment of it. Only a calm and relaxed mind can achieve this.

Too Many Ideas

A super creative mind with an abundance of creative ideas can be counterproductive. The most common problems with creative minds of genius-level can be bipolar disorder, depression, chronic anxiety or panic disorder, and alcoholism.

The reason for this can be their over-the-top, over-the-edge lifestyles, which are adventuresome and exploratory. The world isn’t synced with them, and they are unable to bear this after some time, as their inner world is completely different from their outer reality

Autodidacts

Most creative people are self-taught, be it Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. They ‘think different’ and find that the standard, spoon-fed ways of learning are not helpful and may even be curbing their natural creativity.

The Edge Of Creativity

Polymaths are individuals with deep interests and expertise in a variety of creative fields. Many historic creative geniuses were polymaths, including Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.

Creative people are also persistent in their beliefs and can be resilient when confronted with rejection or scepticism.

Arkham Asylum

Creative people are able to believe things normal people don’t, making them seem mentally ill or having some hallucinations.

Their defense is that they have many ideas, and due to many neurological connections they form in their brains, sometimes those ideas are crazy for others who are having limited mindsets.

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Restrict yourself

Research suggests placing self-imposed limitations can boost creativity. 

It forces your brain to come up with creative solutions to finish a project around the parameters you’ve ...

Re-conceptualize the problem

Instead of thinking of a cut-and-dry end goal to certain situations, creative people sit back and examine the problem in different ways before beginning to work.

If you find yourself stagnating by focusing on generic problems, try to re-conceptualize the problem by focusing on a more meaningful angle.

For example: Instead of thinking “What would be something cool to paint?” rather ask, “What sort of painting evokes the feeling of loneliness that we all encounter after a break-up?”

Create psychological distance

Creating “psychological” distance may be useful for breaking through a creative block.

Try to imagine your creative task as being disconnected and distant from your current position/location - this may make the problem more accessible and can encourage higher level thinking.

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"Pareidolia"
"Pareidolia"

A team of neuroscientists believes there might be a meaningful link between creativity and seeing faces in clouds.

The scientific term for seeing familiar objects i...

Studying involuntary imagination

At first, pareidolia (seeing shapes in clouds and in other inanimate objects) was seen negatively rather than a sign of creativity. It was even considered to be a symptom of psychosis or dementia.

In 1895, French psychologist Alfred Binet - known for his work on IQ tests - suggested that inkblots could be used in psychological research to study differences in involuntary imagination. This idea was further developed, resulting in inkblots to investigate people's personality and assess their psychological state.

Imagination is a sign of creativity

The creative aspect of pareidolia became known in the 19th century with the practice of 'klecksography' - the art of making images from inkblots.

Writer Victor Hugo experimented with folded papers and stains by holding his quill upside down to use the feather-end as a brush. Another practitioner of klecksography, German poet Justinus Andreas Christian Kerner, published Kleksographien (1890), a collection of inkblot art with accompanying short poems about the objects that can be noticed in the images.

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Pamela Slim
“We are made to create. We feel useful when we create. We release our ‘stuckness’ when we create. We reinvent our liv..."
Pamela Slim
Creativity is complex

It means producing something novel or original, evaluating, solving problems, whether on paper, on stage, in a laboratory or even in the shower.

Knowing how to think

Geniuses know “how” to think, instead of “what” to think.

People who are more creative can simultaneously engage brain networks that don’t typically work together.

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The meaning of Genius

The true meaning of the word 'Genius' has been lost in translation in history.

Nowadays it is referred and related to 'achievement', which was not the original meaning. Real genius...

Genius And Genetics

It is a myth that genius parents have genius offspring.

There is no genius gene and genetics can be part of the mix, along with attitude, commitment, and a certain mind-set.

Genius And High IQ
Being a Genius does not equate a high intelligence quotient. Real, creative genius is less about intelligence and more about having an elevated vision.
Genius does not require encyclopedic knowledge or an impressive degree.

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Frank Niles

[Resilience] is the ability to get back in the game after you’ve had some sort of failure. And indeed, we can le..."

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Prepare For The Worst

It starts with your mind-set. Accept that change is inevitable and realize that you can choose how you react.

When possible, lay the groundwork for recovery before you need to: Keep your skills up to date to stay in demand in the market, have a financial reserve in case of job loss or illness, etc. 

Be Emotionally Self-Aware

Strong emotions are more likely to dictate your behavior.

Become familiar with what triggers your stress. Practice “active internal coping mechanisms” such as reframing, humor, optimism, and meaningful social interactions.

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Creativity
The creative process is the act of making new connections between old ideas or recognizing relationships between concepts.

While being creative isn't easy, nearly all great ideas follow a sim...

The 5 Step Creative Process
  1. Gather new material directly related to your task as well as learning general material by becoming fascinated with a wide range of concepts.
  2. Thoroughly work over the materials in your mind.  Examine what you have learned by looking at the facts from different angles and experimenting with fitting various ideas together.
  3. Step away from the problem. Next, you put the problem completely out of your mind and go do something else that excites you and energizes you.
  4. Let your idea return to you. After you have stopped thinking about it, your idea will come back to you with a flash of insight and renewed energy.
  5. Shape and develop your idea based on feedback. For any idea to succeed, you must release it out into the world, submit it to criticism, and adapt it as needed.
Creativity is learned

Some people are primed to be more creative than others.

However, nearly every person is born with some level of creative skill and the majority of our creative thinking abilities are trainable.

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Exercise Benefits The Brain

Any kind of exercise, be it aerobic, walking or Yoga, changes the brain's composition, structure and the way it operates. The changes that happen to the brain:

  • Brain wa...
Brain Waves increasing

The brain's electric impulses change, and the Beta waves increase during and after exercise, putting it in a better, more alert state.

More Sensitive To The World

Exercise makes our senses sharper and clearer, and we are more perceptive and have better sensitivity to our surroundings.

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Combinatory Play

We’ve all experienced that flash of insight, that fleeting moment when a solution we’ve been grinding away at reveals itself in an unexpected place.

Einstein, for example, was known...

Steve Jobs
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“Creativity is just connecting things.”
How The Brain Works

The brain’s building blocks are neurons: nerve cells that receive and transmit signals along neural pathways. Certain pathways are forged at birth. Others can be manipulated by learning. 

So when you’re stuck in a rut, your brain’s neurons could literally be stuck on a neural pathway you’ve carved out through your behavior. But you can get unstuck by choosing to make new connections.

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The Importance Of Boredom

It drives us to engage in activities that we find more meaningful than those at hand. Without it, we’d be perpetually excited by everything.

Research shows that people who are bored...

Focus And The Brain

When we’re consciously doing things we’re using the “executive attention network, ” the parts of the brain that control and inhibit our attention. The attention network makes it possible for us to relate directly to the world presently around us.

By contrast, when our minds wander, we activate the brain’s “default mode network, ” which is the brain “at rest”; not focused on an external, goal-oriented task. In this mode, we still tap about 95% of the energy we use when our brains are engaged in focused thinking. 

Types Of Daydreaming
  • Poor attention control: when people with poor attention control drift into daydreaming. These people are anxious, easily distracted, and have difficulty concentrating, even on their daydreams.
  • Guilty-dysphoric: when our thoughts drift to unproductive and negative places. We berate ourselves for perceived mistakes or flaws and feel emotions like guilt, anxiety, and anger.
  • Positive-constructive: when our thoughts veer toward the imaginative; it reflects our drive to explore ideas and feelings, plan, and problem-solve. 

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Basic categories of nap
  • The Preparatory Nap: This is the planned nap. The responsible nap.
  • The Habitual Nap: You make time for it regularly. It's a habit and it's scheduled.
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When to nap

There's no such thing as a single perfect time to take a nap, but a commonly recommended window. For most people, early afternoon is best. 

We are biphasic sleepers: we pack in most of our sleep at night, but most people's brains experience a dip in alertness somewhere between 1 and 4 p.m.

Sleep inertia

It is the state of impaired cognition, grogginess, and disorientation commonly experienced on awakening from sleep.

This is why most experts suggest avoiding naps between 40 and 60 minutes in length. 

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