- Chapter 1 (Theories)
- Chapter 2 (Incubation Stage)
- Chapter 3 (After Incubation Stage)
Think creatively, achieve productivity, happiness, joy and success; motivate yourself and others in no time.
"The true joy of life lies in . . . being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish clod of ailments and grievances." — George Bernard Shaw
Become people magnet, create new rewarding relationships.
Take control of your life, career, and discover new interests.
Tinkering and experimenting are joyful and rewarding.
To live is so startling, it leaves but little room for other occupations......(EMILY DICKINSON).
Albert Einstein: What would a light wave look like to someone keeping pace with it?
Bill Bowerman (inventor of Nike shoes): What happens if I pour rubber into my waffle iron?
Creativity traits are in all of us. All your creative spirit needs is to be nurtured. We will show you how.
The image below is a simple example and proof of our genuine creative capabilities.
Once you focused on the four dots, your peripheral vision and the power of your intuition have already created the right image.
When you close your eyes or blink, you will input the right image to your mind. This is the power of intuition that helps with the creative force.
Notice once you realized the image, you experienced an Aha! moment. The whole experience is a simple creative process.
This creative process is an example of a mind map where you focused, visualized, purified, achieved creativity, and finally an Aha! moment.
Concentration/Focusing -----> Imagination (Visualization) + Intuition -----> Purification -----> Strong feelings of accomplishments or the Aha! moment
Don't you wish that in each and every difficult situation in life you can create an Aha moment such as above where the solution comes to you in a creative way? Our purpose in this book is to make creativity as easy as the exercise above. We will show that you can achieve creativity in almost any situation in life if you train your mind the right way. You might not become the next Steve Jobs. However, small creative situations brings you happiness, success and satisfaction in life. You will feel freedom, autonomy, and make new friends. You will earn your colleagues' respect and perhaps advance to your next better opportunity. You will appreciate that happiness is basically drawn from respect and admiration of your friends and coworkers.
What is purification? Purification is not exactly the same as liking what you do. Liking is not deep enough for creative process. Picasso did not just like painting. Picasso found painting virtuous and noble. Steve Jobs did not just like inventing personal computers. Steve Jobs found affordable home computers virtuous and noble. We like to emphasize the difference. Mandela and Martin Luther King did not just find fighting for freedom likable. They believed being free is noble and virtuous. A successful and innovative nurse doesn't just like to be a nurse. They find nursing to be noble and virtuous.
Our creative motivation system or method consists of:
1) Mindfulness to cut through and step out of negativity and mental obstacles,
2) Finding new intrinsic motivations through autonomy, relatedness and observation skills,
3) Finding creativity
4) Even achieve innovation and entrepreneurship
In the first chapter we discuss the relevancy of Mind Map and how to achieve it. In the second chapter we examine a practice based on this method.
Creativity and innovation bring about Unification (also known as connection; the Aha moments; Flow). I believe without creativity (originality), the experience of the Aha moment or Flow is difficult. Perhaps it is the feeling of having been able to create something new and original that brings out Flow. Flow is originally introduced by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
Broad definition of the mind map:
Purification (finding virtue and nobility with inner truth and passion)-----> Concentration + Focusing ------> Imagination (Visualization) + Insights + Learning + Intuition -----------> Goal Setting + Hard Work + Determination + Team Work + Creativity -------> Strong feelings of accomplishments and originality (Flow)
In the creative process your goal is to create a circular vortex where each activity must help to strengthen the other. The more you focus, the more virtuous and noble (purification), and the more you learn the more you focus. This is essential.
Intuition is what you add to the less than complete information once you see you can never collect the total information. You have to add your feelings, your gut reaction, to make the right decision or to come up with the right answer. Intuition means relinquishing control of the thinking mind and trusting the vision of the unconscious. Intuition has depth, because it is grounded in the ability to organize information into unanticipated new ideas. In an intuitive or mindful state, new information, like new melodies, is allowed into awareness. This new information can be full of surprise and does not always "make sense. If we resist, and evaluate it on rational grounds, we can silence a vital message.
Most of the times there is no answer that's right for everybody.
Do we use our intuition enough? Unfortunately the answer is no. It all starts with our schooling. Schools unfortunately don't teach us how to trust our intuition. Instead we learn a sort of absolute knowledge. We learn to look for complete information or the one-right-answer. But in real life, even after you gather all the relevant information there is still a gap. And that's where you have to add your own intuition. With adding your own intuition comes the risk. So creative process is kind of risky. But children don't see the risk.
Bach also spoke of the effortless Flow of musical ideas. Asked how he found his melodies, he said, "The problem is not finding them, it's—when getting up in the morning and getting out of bed—not stepping on them."
In this online book we will show that creative people learn to be:
1) Intrinsically motivated; Mindful; Purify the task; Find the task Noble and Virtuous; Amazing Concentration Skills, Visualization Skills, and Easy Learners
2) Have unusual, unorthodox, attention and observation skills
3) Challenge seeking; always searching for nobility and virtuosity in the task (it must be a noble task). If not it is not virtuous or noble it is not worth doing
4) Do not take No for answer
5) Risk Takers; intuitive
6) Kind of Eccentric in an intelligent way and use their eccentricity in the right and healthy way
7) Confront obstacles rather than avoiding them
8) Authentic; free; curious
9) Not worried about failure, feeling shame and/or embrace their vulnerable side; if failed, they call it their eccentric side
10) Child Like; easily connect with the like minded
11) Easily reprogram their mind
12) In complete control of what should input to their mind (observation again) and how to make sense of it correctly for creativity
13) Easily incubate creativity through visualization and imagination
14) They don't mind starting with copying and trying to make it better (Picasso, and Steve Jobs: Good artists copy great artists steal)
Picasso truly embodies this quote, as he did in fact "steal" ideas from his colleague, Braque. Though Picasso is probably best known for establishing Cubism, Braque was always a step ahead of Picasso. However, Picasso was much more of a prolific painter than Braque, so Picasso would work through a concept that Braque had come up with much faster than Braque himself. For example, Braque was the first one to begin using faux-bois (fake wood pattern) that was so crucial in the development of synthetic cubism, but it was Picasso who used it to attribute a different meaning to the pattern and further the idea of synthetic cubism. So it is undeniable that Picasso was a savvy artist, to say the least. source http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100226121955AA5dgbh
We will show consciousness acts more or less like an effective information processing system. To get the most out of your consciousness you have to improve your observation and listening skills (input) and also reprogram the machinery to output the right creative process. We will show you how.
Once you are able to move from left side of the image above to the right side in every situation you encounter in life, you can achieve amazing goals. When your consciousness has completed its transfer from the left side of illustration to the right side, you are now ready to tinker with your creative side. We will show how this transformation is possible. I like to emphasize that our left and right side in the illustration above is not the same as left side or left hemisphere of of the brain or right hemisphere of the brain. Our illustration above is just a way to show how our consciousness usually functions based on life situations and our observation.
A perfect conditioned consciousness creates purified challenges to perhaps make life better (inventions) or just to create for the aesthetic pleasure (arts) or love of the passion (dance, photography, woodcarving, rock climbing,....). Once these challenges are created, we attack them with no mercy to achieve unification or the Aha moment. The output or the results of these small conflicts are usually hard work, timelessness, and foresights.
Once on the right side, a curious mind that is in such a heightened condition needs challenge, a good and virtuous challenge, a tension, and perhaps a need to be satisfied.
Child Like (not childish) Thinking Pays
Be Authentic, Vulnerable, Let Mindfulness Solve
Secret To Creativity: Be Authentic
By Mark Prigg
PUBLISHED: 12:07 EST, 12 November 2012 | UPDATED: 12:56 EST, 12 November 2012
For centuries scientists have studied how both instinct and intellect figure into the decision-making process.
A new study has shown that forced to choose between two options based on instinct alone, participants made the right call up to 90 percent of the time.
Professor Marius Usher of Tel Aviv University's School of Psychological Sciences and his fellow researchers say their findings show that intuition was a surprisingly powerful and accurate tool.
The team say that following your gut and doing what you want is usually the best option
Even at the intuitive level, an important part of the decision-making process is the integration of value - that is, taking into account the strengths and weaknesses of each option to come up with an overall picture, explained Prof Usher.
He said: 'The study demonstrates that humans have a remarkable ability to integrate value when they do so intuitively, pointing to the possibility that the brain has a system that specializes in averaging value.
'This could be the operational system on which common decision-making processes are built.
'In order to get to the core of this system, Prof Usher designed an experiment to put participants through a controlled decision-making process.
On a computer screen, participants were shown sequences of pairs of numbers in quick succession. All numbers that appeared on the right of the screen and all on the left were considered a group; each group represented returns on the stock market.
Participants were asked to choose which of the two groups of numbers had the highest average.
Because the numbers changed so quickly - two to four pairs every second - the participants were unable to memorize the numbers or do proper mathematical calculations.
To determine the highest average of either group, they had to rely on intuitive arithmetic.
Their accuracy increased when more date was presented.
When shown six pairs of numbers the participants chose accurately 65 percent of the time.
But when they were shown 24 pairs, the accuracy rate grew to about 90 percent.
'Intuitively, the human brain has the capacity to take in many pieces of information and decide on an overall value,' said Prof Usher.
'Gut reactions can be trusted to make a quality decision.'
The results of their study were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
On July 17, 1980, Ronald Reagan (another political entrepreneur) stood before the Republican National Convention and the American people to accept his party's nomination for president of the United States. Most of what he said that evening was to be expected from a Republican. He spoke of the nation's past and its "shared values." He attacked the incumbent Carter administration and promised to lower taxes, limit government, and expand national defense. And invoking God, he invited Americans to join him in a "crusade to make America great again." But Reagan had much more than restoration in mind. He intended to transform American political life and discourse. He had constructed a new Republican alliance-a New Right-of corporate elites, Christian evangelicals, conservative and neoconservative intellectuals, and a host of right-wing interest groups in hopes of undoing the liberal politics and programs of the past forty years, reversing the cultural changes and developments of the 1960s, and establishing a new national governing consensus. His ambitions were well known, but that night Reagan startled many by calling forth the revolutionary Thomas Paine and quoting Paine's words of 1776, from the pamphlet Common Sense: "We have it in our power to begin the world over again."!
American politicians have always drawn upon the words and deeds of the Founders to bolster their own positions. Nevertheless, in quoting Paine, Reagan broke emphatically with long-standing conservative practice. Paine was not like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, or John Adams.
Conservatives certainly were not supposed to openly speak favorably of Paine, and for two hundred years they had not. Conservatives had despised Paine and scorned his memory. And one can understand why. Endowing American experience with democratic impulses and aspirations, Paine had turned Americans into radicals-and we have remained radicals at heart ever since.
Contributing fundamentally to the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the struggles of British workers in the Industrial Revolution, Thomas Paine was one of the most remarkable political writers of the modern world and the greatest radical of a radical age. Yet this son of an English artisan did not become a radical until his arrival in America in late 1774 at the age of thirty-seven. Even then he had never expected such things to happen. But struck by America's startling contradictions, magnificent possibilities, and wonderful energies, and moved by the spirit and determination of its people to resist British authority, he dedicated himself to the American cause, and through his pamphlet Common Sense and the American Crisis papers, he emboldened Americans to turn their colonial rebellion into a revolutionary war, defined the new nation in a democratically expansive and progressive fashion, and articulated an American identity charged with exceptional purpose and promise. Five feet ten inches tall, with a full head of dark hair and striking blue eyes, Paine was inquisitive, gregarious, and compassionate, yet strong-willed, combative, and ever ready to argue about and fight for the good and the right.
At war's end Paine was a popular hero, known by all as "Common Sense." Joel Barlow, American diplomat and poet, who had served as a chaplain to the Continental Army, wrote: "without the pen of Paine, the sword of Washington would have been wielded in vain." And yet Paine was not finished. To him, America possessed extraordinary political, economic, and cultural potential. But he did not see that potential as belonging to Americans alone.
Reared an Englishman, adopted by America, and honored as a Frenchman, Paine often called himself a "citizen of the world." But the United States always remained paramount in his thoughts and evident in his labors, and his later writings continued to shape the young nation's events and developments. And yet as great as his contributions were, they were not always appreciated, and his affections were not always reciprocated. Paine's democratic arguments, style, and appeal-as well as his social background, confidence, and single-mindedness-antagonized many among the powerful, propertied, prestigious, and pious and made him enemies even within the ranks of his fellow patriots. (Harvey J. Kaye, Thomas Paine and the Promise of the America)
Several years ago, while teaching one of those history surveys that gallops across great events as if they were pebbles at Belmont, I asked my students to name a revolutionary. I had in mind Tom Paine—whose Common Sense we had just read—or perhaps Marx. I should not have been surprised by the answer I got: Bill Gates.We do not often think of Paine as a revolutionary inventor. But in a very real sense, that is what he believed himself to be.
A revolutionary? Yes, my students told me. After all, Gates had changed everything. And he did not do this by accident. He even wrote a book, The Road Ahead (New York, 1996), whose first chapter bears the very Trotskyite title "A Revolution Begins." In that chapter, Gates reflected upon his achievements, the revolutionary looking back on the revolution. What did they know, he and Paul Allen, a couple of school kids tinkering with some funky machine at little old Lakeside School? Well, "We caused a kind of revolution—peaceful, mainly—and now the computer has taken up residence in our offices and in our homes."
My students agreed. The PC had changed the world. For them, it was clear: things made history. It was a curious, if partly semantic, problem. Would this make Eli Whitney and James Watt more radical than Thomas Jefferson or John Brown?
I had not given the problem much thought until I recently started doing some research on Tom Paine. What drew me to Paine was his peripatetic life. I had finished a project about a traveler who was a contemporary of Paine’s and who led a similarly transatlantic existence. This phenomenon was something I wanted to explore further and Paine seemed the ultimate exemplar of the mobile eighteenth century.
As I started reading Paine, I found myself drawn in an unexpected direction, albeit one that in a weird way validated what those undergrads were telling me some years ago. Paine spent most of the final twenty years of his life pursuing answers to an extraordinary technological problem. The problem was simply this: how do you create a reliable, sturdy, weather-resistant bridge that can span rivers without impeding water traffic? What a mundane problem to occupy the author of The Rights of Man.
And yet the problem was anything but mundane. Paine’s world was a water world. Everything traveled more quickly and more cheaply by water. Where there were no rivers or seas there was little of anything else. What farmers and trappers and miners and other producers could bring to market depended on ready access to water transport. We do not generally think of the Connecticut River or the Schuylkill River or the James River as hugely important commercial arteries. But in the eighteenth century they were. If you stood on their banks in the right season, you would see logs bound together as huge rafts, fifty and sixty foot dugout canoes loaded with deerskins or dried fish, and small sailing craft carrying grain, livestock, or tobacco.
If you lived, say, in the far northwestern corner of Connecticut—hardly a remote place—you may as well have lived in Siberia. (Actually, you might have been better off in Siberia. The Russians had developed an enormous and well-traveled network of post roads—maintained by state-owned serfs—stretching from Lake Baikal in Siberia to St. Petersburg. Interestingly, these were more efficient arteries during the long winters when horse pulled sledges could glide across what would otherwise be wet, boggy terrain.). Getting anything to market—you would probably head to the river town of Hartford—would have involved a treacherous journey across barely maintained trails, usually unable to accommodate any kind of cart or carriage and all but impassible in the winter months. If, heaven forbid, you should stumble upon the swollen Housatonic or Farmington Rivers, you would hope to find a ferryman nearby and you would hope he knew and liked you and was happy to take a few pounds of grain or a few deer skins for his services. You would also hope the weather cooperated. Storms and spring ice made river crossings a deadly business.
Imagine a world without these problems. Imagine simply being able to carry your goods across a bridge. Sure, you might have to pay a toll, but you could travel when you wished, unimpeded by the comings and goings of ferrymen and foul weather. And you could expect, with a nice bridge across the Housatonic for instance, that others would be following you to market, perhaps now carrying large loads of corn and rye. And with those others now happily farming in northwest Connecticut, more people would be more dependent on roads and thus more inclined to band together to maintain them. Above all, if you could make rivers easy to cross you could open once remote tracts to European-style farming and if you could do that you could, in theory anyway, make more land available to more people. You could, to put it simply, help the cause of liberty.
This would all have been very agreeable to Tom Paine. He believed in property and he believed in the "projecting spirit," that spirit of invention that seemed to inhere in the breasts of all men (this was, as far as I know, understood to be a distinctly masculine quality). He thus advocated the creation of a national system of copyright so that authors could, in effect, claim proprietary interests in their work. Not only would this afford fair remuneration, it would also—so Paine believed—spur creativity. Why create if you cannot serve yourself in the process?
Bridge technology was obviously not a new thing in Tom Paine’s America. The Romans had created great stone ones and Europeans continued to build stone bridges using what was basically a modified Roman design. In the new United States, small wooden bridges were most common. They required little specialized knowledge and far less labor than stone bridges. But above all, wood was far more abundant in North America than in Europe.
Wooden bridges had a number of problems though. One was simply that they decayed. Moisture softens all but the rarest hardwoods, exposing load-bearing timbers to wood-boring organisms that can, in a matter of months, turn them into sawdust. The problem is especially acute on the flat road surface where pounding wagon wheels and horse hooves combine with accumulated rainwater, snow, or ice to speed decay. By the early nineteenth century, American bridge builders had devised a solution to this problem in the form of the covered bridge, but other problems with wood remained.
One was that building a wooden bridge long enough to span more than ten or fifteen feet was extremely difficult. With a growing scarcity of long, hard timbers, bridge builders had to rely on supporting piers. Aside from inhibiting river traffic, these were extremely difficult to build. They usually required temporary parapets, built midriver, within which stone foundations could be constructed. But even the most robust piers were vulnerable to forceful flood waters and spring ice.
Paine was among a small group of tinkerers who recognized that the solution to these problems lay in an old material put to a new use. That material was, of course, iron. In the short term, iron lost no strength when wet, and it could be easily fashioned into light, readily transported arches, western architecture’s strongest element. The strength of the arch allowed bridge builders to span waterways without costly piers that inhibited river traffic. But above all, Paine and his fellow inventors saw few limits to the potential span of iron bridges. As long as the basic design was sound, the scale was limited only by the ironworkers’ capacity to fashion the arches.
The material’s first real trial came in 1779 when an ironmaster named Abraham Darby III completed the world’s first iron bridge over the Severn River Gorge near the town of Coalbrookdale in England. It was a spectacular achievement. The one hundred-foot arch eased the movement of labor, manufactured goods, and raw materials fueling the region’s booming industrial economy.
Great though the Coalbrookdale Bridge was, Paine recognized several drawbacks. The first was that it was made from a vast, semicircular arch, whose height made the design feasible only for rivers running through deep gorges—or for bridges with costly embankment towers. And second, it remained largely the work of a single, creative mind. There were no plans or instructions on how similar structures might be erected elsewhere. If more such bridges were to be built, they would have to be built by Darby. This is one reason it took a decade and a half for Britain’s next full-scale iron bridge to appear.
Paine’s ambition was to solve both of these problems. He believed the same basic design principles could be applied to a much shallower arch, fashioned from a "small segment of a large circle." Such a shallow arch could span more than a hundred feet and required no more than five feet of vertical clearance. An arch was an arch. The same principles that applied to large segments of smaller circles applied to smaller segments of giant circles.
But perhaps even more innovative was Paine’s approach to the design and construction process. Instead of crafting a bridge in the way a joiner might a house or a wheelwright a wagon wheel—relying on experience and individual knowledge passed from one craftsperson to the next—he would begin with a design. And that design would be carefully tested, codified, and disseminated. Though he was a great advocate of individual patents, he would not seek one for his iron bridge. It was to become part of the public domain, accessible to all much like the uncannily crisp prose of his most famous pamphlet, Common Sense.
It was all very democratic and very much contrary to the closed and carefully guarded practices of the artisans and trade guilds in which Paine had once found his most loyal political constituency.
This story, like much else in Paine’s life, ends in failure. Paine’s design never made it beyond a prototype exhibited near London. Paine eventually tried to persuade the American Congress to invest in an ambitious version, but to no avail. Nobody in the new American polity—an increasingly Christian polity—wanted to pay the price of associating with such an unapologetic skeptic. It would not be for another thirty years, long after Paine’s passing, that an actual iron bridge would be built in the United States.
Paine blamed the initial collapse of the project on the French Revolution. It was that event that prompted his former friend, Edmund Burke, to publish a popular defense of hereditary rule. The greatest political pamphleteer of the time could not sit idly by. He abandoned the iron bridge project to compose The Rights of Man, a searing rejoinder to Burke. "The publication of this work of Mr. Burke," he later wrote, "drew me from my bridge operations, and my time became employed in defending a system [of representative government] then established and operating in America and which I wished to see peaceably adopted in Europe."
We do not often think of Paine as a revolutionary inventor. But in a very real sense, that is what he believed himself to be. Paine saw in bridge design a handmaiden of social and political change. In encouraging freedom of movement, bridges could free individuals to better themselves. They could free farmers and merchants and craftspeople to move freely through the countryside, and in doing this, they could free them to prosper and become true citizens with a vested interest in the political nation.
Paine discussed his iron bridge activities in several letters but he said most about the project in his 1803 petition to Congress, reprinted in Eric Foner, ed., Paine: Collected Writings (New York, 1995). Paine’s remarks on copyright appear in a 1782 letter to the Abbé Raynal, reprinted in volume 2 of Philip S. Foner, ed. The Complete Writings of Thomas Paine (New York, 1945). The most recent and most complete treatment of Paine and his iron bridge appears in chapter 9 of John Keane’s Tom Paine: A Political Life (New York, 1995).
Creative Work Has Health Advantages
Newswise — Employees who have more control over their daily activities and can do challenging work that they enjoy are likely to be in better health, new research suggests.
“The most important finding is that creative activity helps people stay healthy,” said lead author John Mirowsky, a sociology professor with the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. “Creative activity is non-routine, enjoyable and provides opportunity for learning and for solving problems. People who do that kind of work, whether paid or not, feel healthier and have fewer physical problems.”
Moreover, although people who work give up some independence, the study found that having a job does lead to better health.
“One thing that surprised us was that the daily activities of employed persons are more creative than those of non-employed persons of the same sex, age and level of education,” Mirowsky said.
The study, which appears in the December issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, comprised 2,592 adults who responded to a 1995 national telephone survey; researchers followed up respondents in 1998. The survey addressed general health, physical functioning, how people spent their time on a daily basis and whether their work, even if unpaid, gave them a chance to learn new things or do things they enjoy.
“The health advantage of being somewhat above average in creative work [in the 60th percentile] versus being somewhat below average [in the 40th percentile] is equal to being 6.7 years younger,” Mirowsky said. It is also equal to having two more years of education or 15 times greater household income, he added.
Although the authors did not examine specific job positions that could confer this health advantage, professions considered not to involve a “creative” environment were those such as assembly lines.
Rather, jobs that are high-status, with managerial authority, or that require complex work with data generally provide more access to creative work, Mirowsky said. However, he added, “People with a wide variety of jobs manage to find ways to make them creative.”
The Journal of Health and Social Behavior is the quarterly journal of the American Sociological Association. Contact Sujata Sinha, Media Relations Officer at (202) 247-9871 or email@example.com
Mirowsky J, Ross CE. Creative work and health. J Health Soc Behav 48(4), 2007.
Creative and noncreative problem solvers exhibit different patterns of brain activity, study reveals
Why do some people solve problems more creatively than others? Are people who think creatively somehow different from those who tend to think in a more methodical fashion?
These questions are part of a long-standing debate, with some researchers arguing that what we call “creative thought” and “noncreative thought” are not basically different. If this is the case, then people who are thought of as creative do not really think in a fundamentally different way from those who are thought of as noncreative. On the other side of this debate, some researchers have argued that creative thought is fundamentally different from other forms of thought. If this is true, then those who tend to think creatively really are somehow different.
A new study led by John Kounios, professor of psychology at Drexel University and Mark Jung-Beeman of Northwestern University addresses these questions by comparing the brain activity of creative and noncreative problem solvers. The study published in the journal Neuropsychologia, reveals a distinct pattern of brain activity, even at rest, in people who tend to solve problems with a sudden creative insight -- an “Aha! Moment” – compared to people who tend to solve problems more methodically.
At the beginning of the study, participants relaxed quietly for seven minutes while their electroencephalograms (EEGs) were recorded to show their brain activity. The participants were not given any task to perform and told they could think about whatever they wanted. Later, they were asked to solve a series of anagrams – scrambled letters that can be rearranged to form words [MPXAELE = EXAMPLE]. These can be solved by deliberately and methodically trying out different letter combinations, or they can be solved with a sudden insight or “Aha!” in which the solution pops into awareness. After each successful solution, participants indicated in which way the solution had come to them.
The participants were then divided into two groups – those who reported solving the problems mostly by sudden insight, and those who reported solving the problems more methodically – and resting-state brain activity for these groups was compared. As predicted, the two groups displayed strikingly different patterns of brain activity during the resting period at the beginning of the experiment – before they knew they would have to solve problems or even knew what the study was about.
One difference was that the creative solvers exhibited greater activity in several regions of the right hemisphere. Previous research has suggested that the right hemisphere of the brain plays a special role in solving problems with creative insight, likely due to right-hemisphere involvement in the processing of loose or “remote” associations between the elements of a problem, which is understood to be an important component of creative thought. The current study shows that greater right-hemisphere activity occurs even during a “resting” state in those with a tendency to solve problems by creative insight. This finding suggests that even the spontaneous thought of creative individuals, such as in their daydreams, contains more remote associations.
Second, creative and methodical solvers exhibited different activity in areas of the brain that process visual information. The pattern of “alpha” and “beta” brainwaves in creative solvers was consistent with diffuse rather than focused visual attention. This may allow creative individuals to broadly sample the environment for experiences that can trigger remote associations to produce an Aha! Moment. For example, a glimpse of an advertisement on a billboard or a word spoken in an overheard conversation could spark an association that leads to a solution. In contrast, the more focused attention of methodical solvers reduces their distractibility, allowing them to effectively solve problems for which the solution strategy is already known, as would be the case for balancing a checkbook or baking a cake using a known recipe.
Thus, the new study shows that basic differences in brain activity between creative and methodical problem solvers exist and are evident even when these individuals are not working on a problem. According to Kounios, “Problem solving, whether creative or methodical, doesn’t begin from scratch when a person starts to work on a problem. His or her pre-existing brain-state biases a person to use a creative or a methodical strategy.”
In addition to contributing to current knowledge about the neural basis of creativity, this study suggests the possible development of new brain imaging techniques for assessing potential for creative thought, and for assessing the effectiveness of methods for training individuals to think creatively.
Kounios, J., Fleck, J.I., Green, D.L., Payne, L., Stevenson, J.L., Bowden, M., & Jung- Beeman, M. (2008). The origins of insight in resting-state brain activity. Neuropsychologia, 46, 281-291.
Jung-Beeman, M., Bowden, E.M., Haberman, J., Frymiare, J.L., Arambel-Liu, S., Greenblatt, R., Reber, P.J., & Kounios, J. (2004). Neural activity when people solve verbal problems with insight. PLoS Biology, 2, 500-510.
Kounios, J., Frymiare, J.L., Bowden, E.M., Fleck, J.I., Subramaniam, K., Parrish, T.B., & Jung-Beeman, M.J. (2006). The prepared mind: Neural activity prior to problem presentation predicts subsequent solution by sudden insight. Psychological Science, 17, 882-890.
Researchers have mapped the brain regions that process social standing and money rewards, yielding new insights that they said will aid understanding of the basis of social behaviors.
They published their findings in two papers in the April 24, 2008, issue of the journal Neuron, published by Cell Press.
In one paper, Norihiro Sadato and colleagues found that making money and making a reputation engage much of the same reward circuitry in the brain—a finding that they say yields insight into what drives complex social behaviors.
In the other paper, Caroline Zink and colleagues mapped brain regions that are active when a person is processing information on social status. The researchers said their findings could yield insight into why social status can so profoundly affect behavior and health.
Also, the papers’ findings could offer an understanding of why drug treatments for such neurological disorders as Parkinson’s disease can trigger abnormal money-related behaviors such as compulsive gambling, commented Rebecca Saxe and Johannes Haushofer in a preview of the two papers in the same issue of Neuron.
In the first paper, Sadato and colleagues compared the activation of specific areas of volunteers’ brains as they took part in two experiments in which they received either money or social rewards. During the experiments, the researchers scanned the subjects’ brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), in which harmless magnetic fields and radio waves are used to measure blood flow in brain regions, which reflects activity.
In the monetary reward experiments, the subjects were told they were playing a gambling game, in which they chose one of three cards to receive a payoff. However, the researchers manipulated the game so that they could determine the brain activity triggered by high rewards.
In the social reward experiment, the subjects were told that strangers would be evaluating them based on information from a personality questionnaire and a video they made introducing themselves. The subjects were shown a picture of themselves, along with the word or phrase indicating how the strangers had evaluated them. However, the strangers did not really exist, and the researchers showed the subjects predetermined evaluations that allowed the researchers to manipulate the level of social reward experienced by the subjects.
Sadato and colleagues found that both the monetary and social rewards activated a reward-related area of the brain called the striatum.
“By directly contrasting the brain activities of the same subjects in relation to the delivery of social and monetary rewards, our results clearly show that social approval shares the same neural basis as monetary rewards, thus providing strong support for the idea of a ‘common neural currency’ of reward,” concluded the researchers.
They wrote that their findings “indicate that the social reward of a good reputation should be incorporated into the neural model of human decision making in a similar manner to monetary rewards.” Thus, they wrote, experiments on decision making that use money-related games need to take into account that the subjects are exchanging more than money; they are also dealing in approval and reputation.
“Our findings indicate that the social reward of a good reputation in the eyes of others is processed in an anatomically and functionally similar manner to monetary rewards, and these results represent an essential step toward a complete neural understanding of human social behaviors,” concluded Sadato and colleagues.
In the second Neuron paper, Zink and colleagues explored the neural regions activated when people process information on their social status. Such insights, they said, are significant because social hierarchies are important factors in social behavior, and “in humans, social status strongly predicts well-being, morbidity, and even survival.”
In their experiments, the researchers set up artificial social hierarchies by asking volunteers to play simple interactive games for a money reward. Each of the volunteers was told that they were playing the games along with two other players, one of whom was a superior player and one an inferior player. However, in reality, the other players did not exist, and the game outcomes were manipulated so that the researchers could control the social status of the player. To give the illusion that the other players existed, the subjects saw the other players’ images on the screen during play. Importantly, the games were noncompetitive, so that the researchers could measure only social status and its change.
During the games, the subjects’ brains were scanned using fMRI, so the researchers could map the brain regions active during different conditions of social hierarchy.
In the first experiment, the researchers kept the social hierarchy stable. The subjects were asked to respond as quickly as possible when a blue circle on a computer screen changed to green. Throughout the game, the players’ status did not change relative to the other “players.”
In the second experiment, the researchers made the social hierarchy unstable, manipulating the outcome so that the player might do better or worse than the other “players.” In that game, the player was asked to respond as quickly as possible to indicate which of two boxes on the computer screen contained the most black dots. Periodically during the game, the player would be told whether his/her status was rising or falling compared to the other “players.”
In the third experiment, the researchers told the players they were playing against a computer, allowing the researchers to pinpoint the brain regions specifically activated by social behavior.
The researchers found they could distinguish brain regions that were more active when the subjects thought they were viewing a superior person compared with an inferior person, implicating these brain regions in the neural encoding of hierarchical rank.
Also, the researchers could distinguish brain areas that were particularly active when social hierarchy was changing. These areas included those involved in social emotional processing and social cognition.
“We conclude that activity in these regions represents an emotional arousal response to the superior player that only arises when the hierarchy is dynamic, i.e., when relative performance, although irrelevant for the game outcome, can have social hierarchical consequences,” wrote the researchers.
Zink and colleagues wrote that “our findings demonstrate that brain responses to superiority and inferiority are dissociable, even in the absence of explicit competition, both when encountering an individual of a particular status and when faced with an outcome that can affect one’s current position in the hierarchy. We hope that this research leads to identification of neural mechanisms mediating the enormous impact of social status on decision-making, health, and survival in humans.”
“One immediate implication of these results is for patients with dysfunction of these brain regions,” wrote Saxe and Haushofer in their preview. “The striatum is among the targets of some neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease (PD). Overtreatment of PD with dopamine agonists is known to induce abnormal economic decision-making, including compulsive gambling. If the same brain structures are responsible for the reward-value of love and reputation, pharmacological manipulation of the striatum may also have social consequences.”
The researchers include Keise Izuma, National Institute for Physiological Sciences (NIPS), Aichi, Japan, The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, Kanagawa, Japan; Daisuke N. Saito, National Institute for Physiological Sciences (NIPS), Aichi, Japan, Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)/Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society (RISTEX), Tokyo, Japan; and Norihiro Sadato, National Institute for Physiological Sciences (NIPS), Aichi, Japan, The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, Kanagawa, Japan, Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)/Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society (RISTEX), Tokyo, Japan, Biomedical Imaging Research Center (BIRC), University of Fukui, Fukui, Japan.
The researchers include Caroline F. Zink, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD; Yunxia Tong, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD; Qiang Chen, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD; Danielle S. Bassett, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD; Jason L. Stein, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD; and Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany.
A new neural evidence suggests that the brain's reward system works similarly for both praise and money
Why are we nice to others? One answer provided by social psychologists is because it pays off. A social psychological theory stated that we do something nice to others for a good reputation or social approval just like we work for salary.
Consistent with this idea, a research team led by Norihiro Sadato, a professor, at the Japanese National Institute for Physiological Sciences, NIPS (SEIRIKEN), and Keise Izuma, a graduate student of the Graduate University for Advanced Studies, in Okazaki, Japan, now have neural evidence that perceiving one's good reputation formed by others activates the striatum, the brain's reward system, in a similar manner to monetary reward. The team reports their findings on April 24 in NEURON (Cell Press).
The research group conducted functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments on 19 people with monetary and social rewards. The acquisition of one's good reputation robustly activated reward-related brain areas, notably the striatum, and these overlapped with the areas activated by monetary rewards. These results strongly suggest that social reward is processed in the striatum like monetary reward.
Considering a pivotal role played by a good reputation in social interactions, this study provides an important first step toward neural explanation for our everyday social behaviors.
Most creative people believe in Hope
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -
And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -
I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.