Sex Hormones

Although the biological basis of sex differences in the brain's structure and function has not been entirely elucidated, there are at least two reasons that the brains of men and women might be different, size and laterality of cognitive processes. These two reasons, however, are not entirely independent. As I mentioned earlier, men's brains are larger than women's brains and there are more neurons. Although these differences are at least in part developmental, it is unknown whether these...

Developmental Learning Disability

About three decades ago, I was listening to Norman Geschwind speak about dyslexia to members of the Orton (dyslexia) Society. Norman liked to say things that would shock his audience, and during his talk he said, Dyslexia is a social disease. At that time when someone spoke about social diseases, they were usually speaking about sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea and syphilis. There were many dyslexic people and parents of dyslexic children in the audience who appeared to be angry...

Risk Taking and Substance Abuse

If the creative act brings satisfaction and fulfillment, why do creative people often have affective disorders such as depression In addition to having a high prevalence of affective disorders, creative people, especially writers, composer-musicians, and fine artists, have a very high rate of substance abuse, such as alcoholism (Post, 1994, 1996). As I mentioned in the chapter on neurotransmitters (chapter 8), although creative people often go through many trials and tribulations to accomplish...

Subconscious Incubation

Many creative people have related that after discovering an unresolved problem, they are unable to immediately to solve this problem. After multiple attempts, they might become frustrated, give up trying to solve the problem, and then move on to other problems. Sometimes, after a few days, weeks, or months, suddenly the solution of this problem might come to them. As I mentioned, this experience has been termed illumination, or the aha experience, by Wallas (1926). The ability to suddenly...

The Frontal Lobes and Aging

Injury to the frontal lobes or interruptions of subcortical connections with the frontal lobe impair the functions of the frontal lobes, and some of these deficits of frontal lobe function are called executive deficits. Several studies suggest that frontal lobe dysfunction is often associated with aging. For example, Mittenberg, Seidenberg, O'Leary, and DiGiulio (1989) compared older and younger individuals on tests that assessed frontal, parietal, and temporal lobe functions. These...

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...

Right Hemisphere Deterioration

In chapter 3 I described the role of the right hemisphere in creativity. In summary, the right hemisphere appears to be more important in global than local processing, and global processing is often important in finding the thread that unites. I also mentioned how the right hemisphere is important in visual-spatial functions and how many extremely creative people used visual-spatial strategies to help find creative solutions. Thus, another hypothesis as to why creativity decreases with aging...

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...