November 17, 2017

Beethoven kept writing music, even though he couldn’t hear it himself. That can tell us a lot about creativity. Credit: Boston Public Library / Flickr Creative Commons

Our creativity is influenced by how we think and interact every day. So what makes us so creative? We talk with composer Anthony Brandt and neuroscientist David Eagleman, co-authors of “The Runaway Species: How Creativity Remakes the World,” about the origins of our creative thinking.

Three Takeaways 

  • “Creativity is an inherently social act,” Eagleman says. We’re always trying to impress and surprise those around us - and in doing so, we’re constantly coming up with new and creative ideas.
  • Our prefrontal cortex helps us imagine other spaces and times from the one we’re currently in. And by thinking about those alternatives and possibilities, we’re able to ask “what if” questions that lead to creativity. The “what if” process is “constantly humming,” Brandt says, and it allows us to be “very flexible” in our thinking.
  • We seek novelty, but we also get used to things really rapidly, so it isn’t long before new and creative ideas become normal - and boring. But we also don’t want things to be completely novel. We still want to have an “umbilical cord” that ties us to the familiar past. We end somewhere in the middle, where we can be excited by new ideas without feeling too uncomfortable.

More reading 

innovation hub, Kara Miller, WGBH, creativity, Anthony Brandt, David Eagleman, pri

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