Okay, I’m a geek, but two things I think about quite a bit are creativity and neuroscience. In my own writing and my teaching through Writing Through, the question often arises, how does someone be creative? What is that spark and where does it come from? My own experience has proven to me that working creatively in the arts, be it in language or music or visual arts, leads to real changes in the brain. In other words, there is a link between creativity and the brain, and thankfully, neuroscientists are now looking into that link more and more. There are already quite a few studies that have been done on the subject, many of which I’ll no doubt be talking about in the future. But this article from the New York Times (June 19, 2014) does a good job explaining a few of them. You can read it all at here .
But here is one interesting snippet:
Deep inside the brains of expert writers, a region called the caudate nucleus became active. In the novices, the caudate nucleus was quiet.
The caudate nucleus is a familiar part of the brain for scientists like Dr. Lotze who study expertise. It plays an essential role in the skill that comes with practice, including activities like board games.
When we first start learning a skill — be it playing a piano or playing basketball — we use a lot of conscious effort. With practice, those actions become more automatic. The caudate nucleus and nearby regions start to coordinate the brain’s activity as this shift happens.
Educators, parents and politicians all seem to recognize the value of sports and the activity of practicing a musical instrument, but still arts education is one of the first subjects cut from school curricula. We who work in the arts know first hand that artistic ventures lead directly to creative thinking which lead to innovation and progress in all fields, from computers to biotechnology, to space exploration, to community development and business. I hope that the proliferation of research looking into creativity and neuroscience will help everyone understand the real value of what we artists do.