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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 »

Neuroimaging study finds extensive brain rewiring–in just six months–among illiterate adults learning to read and write

Learn­ing to read and write rewires adult brain in six months (New Sci­en­tist):

Learn­ing to read can have pro­found effects on the wiring of the adult brain – even in regions that aren’t usu­al­ly asso­ci­at­ed with read­ing and writ­ing.

That’s what Michael Skei­de of the Max Planck Insti­tute for Human Cog­ni­tive and Brain Sci­ences in Leipzig, Ger­many, and his col­leagues found when they taught a group of illit­er­ate adults in rur­al India to read and write Read the rest of this entry »

Next: Harnessing brain scans to personalize autism-related behavioral interventions

pet_imagingAutism First: Brain Pat­terns May Pre­dict Treat­ment Response (Med­scape):

It’s pos­si­ble to pre­dict whether a young child with autism spec­trum dis­or­der (ASD) will respond to an evi­dence-based behav­ioral inter­ven­tion by ana­lyz­ing brain activ­i­ty pat­terns with func­tion­al MRI (fMRI) pri­or to treat­ment Read the rest of this entry »

July 14th @ MIT: Discussion about Neurotechnology and Depression

neurotechnology—–

Heads-up about an inter­est­ing event in Boston on July 14th. Neu­roso­lu­tions 2016: Neu­rotech­nol­o­gy and Depres­sion

  • Descrip­tion: Join us for a pan­el dis­cus­sion about Neu­rotech­nol­o­gy and Depres­sion, the first in a new series about apply­ing cut­ting-edge neu­rotech­nol­o­gy to press­ing soci­etal prob­lems, orga­nized by the MIT Cen­ter for Neu­ro­bi­o­log­i­cal Engi­neer­ing and Read the rest of this entry »

Study: Judicial opinions mentioning neuroscientific evidence doubled between 2005 and 2012

law_brainscansThe Brain Gets Its Day in Court (The Atlantic):

The crime was brutal…Detrich is still on death row today as the appeals process drags on, but in 2010, his lawyers achieved a vic­to­ry of sorts. They claimed that Read the rest of this entry »

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