The Creative Mind

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Many of us assume that it’s something we lost as a child, or something given to rarefied individuals we can only admire from afar. Then I came across a book, which contested all that. Wired To Create examines the work of neuroscientists who’ve found that creativity does not only involve the ‘right brain’ but draws on the whole brain with different regions recruited to handle each task and to work as a team to get the job done. That part of the brain at work when we are not purposely engaged in other tasks enables us to construct personal meaning from our experiences, imagine other scenarios, understand stories and reflect. So its no surprise this ‘imagination network’ informs our most creative ideas. But we also need the ‘executive attention’ network These processes support creative thinking by helping us plan future actions, keep track of strategies we’ve already tried and reject the most obvious ideas. They also help us focus our imagination, block out external distraction and allow us to tune into inner experiences. When we generate new ideas these networks, together with motivation, engage in a complex dance. 

Brain scans of people engaged in their personal creative processes are revealing. Initially they resemble a state of flow or complete absorption in the task. The imagination and motivation networks are very active, while the more focussed

 ‘executive network’ is fairly quiet. However, as creative people hone and refine their work the ‘executive network’ becomes more active. Creative people appear good at juggling these seemingly contradictory modes of thought                 

So, what can we do to augment this cognitive flexibility? The book, Wired to Create,  explores how to develop creativity as a habit, a way of life, and a style of engaging with the world. It presents many paradoxes—mindfulness and mind wandering, openness and sensitivity, solitude and collaboration, play and seriousness, and intuition and reason—that contribute to the creative process. It encourages people to embrace their paradoxes and complexities and open up to a deeper level of self-understanding and self-expression. It is precisely this ability to hold the self in all of its dimensional beauty that is the very core of creative achievement and creative fulfillment. 

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