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Wednesday, February 25, 2009
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
CNLS Conference Room (TA-3, Bldg 1690)

Seminar

The Creative Brain: From Neuromythology to Neuroscience

Rex Jung
The MIND Research Network, UNM

Despite universal agreement on its central role in individual and cultural achievement, the neurobiological underpinnings of creativity are poorly understood. Currently, most researchers attempt to measure particular component skills thought to be important to the creative process, usually in groups of normal individuals not known to possess high levels of creativity (e.g., college undergraduates). Such strategies are necessarily incomplete as creativity is not a monolithic cognitive process, creative individuals manifest this ability in different domains, and creative output is of widely differing quality. Thus, there likely exists myriad cognitive skills necessary to produce something both "novel and useful", these skills might be differentially accessed within different domains (e.g., visual art versus scientific discovery), and common creativity might differ substantially from creative genius. While enormously complex, the scientific inquiry of creativity is amenable to the tools of cognitive psychology and the cognitive neurosciences, linking behavior to activity within and between brain networks in meaningful ways. The main challenge is not to fall prey to the many facile simplifications that often arise when discussing creativity, while at the same time using and expanding upon the few limited behavioral tools (e.g, measures of divergent thinking, reasoning, personality, insight) and vast array of neuroimaging techniques (e.g., proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Diffusion Tensor Imaging, structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging) that have emerged to assess its manifestation within normal populations.

Funding: This research is funded by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation entitled "Neuroscience of Creativity"

Host: Garrett Kenyon, Applied Modern Physics (P-21)