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A conversation with Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg on Creativity, Neuroscience, and Technological Innovation

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Dear Elkhonon, a plea­sure to have you with us. Let’s get out the gate by dis­cussing how are new ideas born — for exam­ple, how exact­ly did you first think about writ­ing your new book, Cre­ativ­i­ty: The Human Brain in the Age of Inno­va­tion?

Orig­i­nal­ly, I set out to write a book about how the brain deals with nov­el­ty — a long-stand­ing focus of my own research. But the more I thought about it, the more the sub­ject of cre­ativ­i­ty was com­ing up, so I decid­ed to tack­le nov­el­ty and cre­ativ­i­ty at the same time.

Do we need yet anoth­er book on Cre­ativ­i­ty?

We absolute­ly do. Cre­ativ­i­ty is not just an indi­vid­ual feat; it is embed­ded into a cul­ture which either fos­ter, sti­fles, or shapes it in a vari­ety of ways. And it is nev­er a strict­ly soli­tary process, since even the most cre­ative mind draws on the pre­vi­ous­ly accu­mu­lat­ed knowl­edge. So, in order to tru­ly under­stand cre­ativ­i­ty, we must inte­grate neu­ro­sci­en­tif­ic and cul­tur­al per­spec­tives into a coher­ent nar­ra­tive. To my knowl­edge, this has not been done before, and this is what my book aims to accom­plish.

I am par­tic­u­lar­ly fas­ci­nat­ed by the dynam­ic rela­tion­ship between over- and under­ac­ti­va­tion of pre­frontal cor­tex areas in the cre­ative process and dis­cuss it exten­sive­ly in the book. This is one of the most intrigu­ing and pos­si­bly most con­se­quen­tial aspects of the brain machin­ery of cre­ativ­i­ty.

What have we learned about the brain mech­a­nisms of cre­ativ­i­ty over the last five to ten years?

We have learned a lot: that cre­ativ­i­ty is not a mono­lith­ic trait; that is con­sists of many mov­ing parts and may take many paths even with­in the same are­na of human endeav­or; that it is not linked to any sin­gle brain struc­ture or to a sin­gle gene or even a small group of genes.

How do you define Cre­ativ­i­ty, and what can Neu­ro­science con­tribute to its under­stand­ing?

Cre­ativ­i­ty is often defined as the abil­i­ty to come up with con­tent which is both nov­el and salient. Read the rest of this entry »

Belén Guerra-Carrillo to speak about Cognition, Learning and How to Conduct a 200,000-participant Study at the 2017 SharpBrains Virtual Summit

Proud to con­firm a new excel­lent Speak­er @ 2017 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit (Decem­ber 5–7th).

Belén Guer­ra-Car­ril­lo is an NSF fel­low and a doc­tor­al stu­dent at UC Berke­ley in Prof. Sil­via Bunge’s Build­ing Blocks of Cog­ni­tion Lab. She is par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in the neur­al and cog­ni­tive mech­a­nisms that give rise to changes that occur as a result of learn­ing, and uses mul­ti­ple methodologies–eye-tracking, neu­roimag­ing, big data and more– to gain a rich­er pic­ture of how and when these changes take place, as well as the fac­tors that may influ­ence indi­vid­ual learn­ing tra­jec­to­ries, as evi­denced by the fas­ci­nat­ing recent study pub­lished just two weeks ago and out­lined below.

UC Berke­ley study links cog­ni­tive longevi­ty to high­er edu­ca­tion (The Dai­ly Cal­i­forn­ian):

A study led by cam­pus researchers found that high­er lev­els of edu­ca­tion are linked to lat­er ages of peak cog­ni­tive performance…The team was able to use anony­mous data gath­ered from almost 200,000 sub­scribers to Lumos­i­ty, an online cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­gram, whose users con­sent­ed that their results could be used for sci­en­tif­ic research. Lumos­i­ty became involved in the study through its Human Cog­ni­tion Project, which aims to pro­vide researchers with cog­ni­tive data from Lumosity’s train­ing tools Read the rest of this entry »

The dual challenge ahead of Facebook’s Typing-by-Brain project: 1) develop the neurotechnology, 2) develop the science

Direc­tor of Typ­ing-by-Brain Project Dis­cuss­es How Face­book Will Get Inside Your Head (IEEE Spec­trum):

When Facebook’s Mark Chevil­let describes the company’s new “typ­ing by brain” ini­tia­tive, he has a way of keep­ing it from sound­ing total­ly crazy Read the rest of this entry »

To boost creativity, combine systematic daily effort with diverse emotional states

jazz_creativityMap­ping Cre­ativ­i­ty in the Brain (The Atlantic):

The writer Edith Whar­ton, a self-pro­fessed “slow work­er,” dis­missed the idea of easy cre­ative tri­umph. “Many peo­ple assume that the artist receives, at the out­set of his career, the mys­te­ri­ous sealed orders known as ‘Inspi­ra­tion,’ and has only to let that sov­er­eign impulse car­ry him where it will,” she wrote in her 1925 book The Writ­ing of Fic­tion. The artis­tic impulse, she con­tin­ued, was instead achieved through “sys­tem­at­ic dai­ly effort.”

But while she cham­pi­oned dili­gence, Whar­ton was also dri­ven by Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Brain teasers and brain fitness tips to improve attention and memory in 2016

3_BRAINSDear Sharp­Brains friend,

Time for Sharp­Brains’ Decem­ber e-newslet­ter…and we are hon­ored to announce that the Japan­ese edi­tion of The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness just became avail­able, and is doing well! (more below)

Let us wish you Hap­py Hol­i­days and Hap­py New Year, and share a few resources and insights that may come handy in 2016.

Resources to enhance brain fitness in 2016:

New brain research:

Take-aways from the 2015 SharpBrains Virtual Summit:

BrainFitnessJapanese_Amazon

Meanwhile, in Japan…

 

Best wish­es for a sharp, healthy and hap­py 2016!

The Sharp­Brains Team

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