Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Beautiful Minds: "The Real Neuroscience of Creativity"

From Scientific American:
So yea, you know how the left brain is really realistic, analytical, practical, organized, and logical, and the right brain is so darn creative, passionate, sensual, tasteful, colorful, vivid, and poetic?

Just no.
Stop it.
Thoughtful cognitive neuroscientists such as Rex Jung, Darya Zabelina, Andreas Fink, John KouniosMark Beeman, Kalina ChristoffOshin Vartanian, Jeremy Gray, Hikaru Takeuchi and others are on the forefront of investigating what actually happens in the brain during the creative process. And their findings are overturning conventional notions surrounding the neuroscience of creativity.

The latest findings from the real neuroscience of creativity suggest that the right brain/left brain distinction is not the right one when it comes to understanding how creativity is implemented in the brain. Creativity does not involve a single brain region or single side of the brain.

Instead, the entire creative process– from the initial burst of inspiration to the final polished product– consists of many interacting cognitive processes and emotions. Depending on the stage of the creative process, and what you’re actually attempting to create, different brain regions are recruited to handle the task.

Importantly, many of these brain regions work as a team to get the job done, and many recruit structures from both the left and right side of the brain. In recent years, evidence has accumulated suggesting that “cognition results from the dynamic interactions of distributed brain areas operating in large-scale networks.”
Depending on the task, different brain networks will be recruited. For instance, if you’re attempting to mentally rotate an image in your mind (e.g., trying to figure out how to fit luggage into the trunk of your car), the Visuospatial Network is likely to be active. This network involves communication between the posterior parietal cortex and frontal eye fields.
The Visuospatial Network
If your task makes greater demands on language, however, Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area are more likely to be recruited.

The Language Network
But what about creative cognition? Three large-scale brain networks are critical to understanding the neuroscience of creativity across domains. Let’s review them here.

Network 1: The Attentional Control Network
The Attentional Control Network is recruited when a task requires that the spotlight of attention is focused like a laser beam. This network is active when you’re concentrating on a challenging lecture, or engaging in complex problem solving and reasoning that puts heavy demands on working memory. This neural architecture involves efficient and reliable communication between lateral (outer) regions of the prefrontal cortex and areas toward the back (posterior) of the parietal lobe....MUCH MORE