Cultural and Religious Influences

One of the strongest and most persistent desires of many people is immortality. About 25 to 30 years ago several laboratories were teaching chimpanzees to communicate with gestural or iconic languages. David Premack, who was teaching chimps an iconic language with great success, came to the University of Florida as a visiting professor. After his lecture and dinner, we attended a party together. We got into a conversation and I asked, What would happen to your chimps if you or someone in your...

Divergent Thinking

Psychologists divide thinking into two forms convergent and divergent. The type of thinking performed by most problem solvers is convergent. In medical school we primarily teach our students and residents convergent thinking. For example, medical students are taught that if they see a person who has a fever, he or she may have an infection or heat stroke. In addition to the fever, if the patient is unconscious, the physician might still have trouble distinguishing between these two diagnostic...

The Archimedes Misconception

One of the most famous stories about the aha experience is that of Archimedes, who, while taking a bath, discovered the laws of buoyancy, jumped out of the bathtub, and yelled, Eureka On the basis of this well-known story, many people believe that creative innovation is something that automatically happens, like some form of divine inspiration. Other people believe that creative innovation is a talent that is limited to only a few special people who have special brains and are called geniuses....

Modularity and Connectivity

Planum Temporale

To understand how brains might work when people are performing creative acts, we have to understand the modular organization of the brain, and the modular organization of the brain is at least in part dependent on its anatomy. The cerebral cortex is divided into a left and right hemisphere, and these two hemispheres are connected by a structure called the corpus callosum. The corpus callosum allows information to be transferred from one hemisphere to the other see Figure 1.1 . Each hemisphere...