People with creative personalities really do see the world differently – Luke Smillie and Anna Antinori * WIRED to CREATE – Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire.

What is it about a creative work such as a painting or piece of music that elicits our awe and admiration? Is it the thrill of being shown something new, something different, something the artist saw that we did not?

As Pablo Picasso put it:

Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.

The idea that some people see more possibilities than others is central to the concept of creativity.

Psychologists often measure creativity using divergent thinking tasks. These require you to generate as many uses as possible for mundane objects, such as a brick. People who can see numerous and diverse uses for a brick (say, a coffin for a Barbie doll funeral diorama) are rated as more creative than people who can only think of a few common uses (say, for building a wall).

The aspect of our personality that appears to drive our creativity is called openness to experience, or openness. Among the five major personality traits, it is openness that best predicts performance on divergent thinking. Openness also predicts real-world creative achievements, as well as engagement in everyday creative pursuits.

As Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire explain in their book Wired to Create, the creativity of open people stems from a “drive for cognitive exploration of one’s inner and outer worlds”.

This curiosity to examine things from all angles may lead people high in openness to see more than the average person, or as another research team put it, to discover “complex possibilities laying dormant in so-called ‘familiar’ environments”.

Creative vision

In our research, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, we found that open people don’t just bring a different perspective to things, they genuinely see things differently to the average individual.

We wanted to test whether openness is linked to a phenomenon in visual perception called binocular rivalry. This occurs when two different images are presented to each eye simultaneously, such as a red patch to the right eye and a green patch to the left eye.

For the observer, the images seem to flip intermittently from one to the other. At one moment only the green patch is perceived, and at the next moment only the red patch each stimulus appearing to rival the other.

Intriguingly, participants in binocular rivalry studies occasionally see a fused or scrambled combination of both images. These moments of “rivalry suppression”, when both images become consciously accessible at once, seem almost like a “creative” solution to the problem presented by the two incompatible stimuli.

Across three experiments, we found that open people saw the fused or scrambled images for longer periods than the average person. Furthermore, they reported seeing this for even longer when experiencing a positive mood state similar to those that are known to boost creativity.

Our findings suggest that the creative tendencies of open people extend all the way down to basic visual perception. Open people may have fundamentally different visual experiences to the average person.

Seeing things that others miss

Another well known perceptual phenomenon is called inattentional blindness. People experience this when they are so focused on one thing that they completely fail to see something else right before their eyes.

In a famous illustration of this perceptual glitch, participants were asked to watch a short video of people tossing a basketball to one another, and to track the total number of passes between the players wearing white.

During the Video, a person in a gorilla costume wanders into centre stage, indulges in a little chest-beating, and then schleps off again. Did you see it? If not, you are not alone. Roughly half of the 192 participants in the original study completely failed to see the costumed figure.

But why did some people experience inattentional blindness in this study when others didn’t? The answer to this question came in a recent follow-up study showing that your susceptibility to inattentional blindness depends on your personality: open people are more likely to see the gorilla in the video clip.

Once again, it seems that more visual information breaks through into conscious perception for people high in openness they see the things that others screen out.

Opening our minds: is more better?

It might seem as if open people have been dealt a better hand than the rest of us. But can people with uncreative personalities broaden their limited vistas, and would this be a good thing?

There is mounting evidence that personality is malleable, and increases in openness have been observed in cognitive training interventions and studies of the effects of psilocybin (the psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms).

Openness also increases for students who choose to study overseas, confirming the idea that travel broadens the mind.

But there is also a dark side to the “permeability of consciousness” that characterises open people. Openness has been linked to aspects of mental illness, such as proneness to hallucination.

So despite its appeal, there may be a slippery slope between seeing more and seeing things that are not there.

So, from different personalities emerge different experiences, but we should always remember that one person’s view is not necessarily better than another’s.

WIRED to CREATE

Discover the 10 things great artists, writers and innovators do differently

Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire

Is it possible to make sense of something as elusive as creativity?

Creativity works in mysterious ways, with inspiration often arising out of nowhere and then failing to show up when we need it most!

Combining the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology with original research, Dr Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire dig deeper than ever before into the creative mind. Taking us on a fascinating journey that unpacks the creative genius layer by layer, they reveal what creativity is, what creative people do differently and what we can all learn from this.

With insights from some of the greatest creative minds in history, including Pablo Picasso, Marcel Proust, David Foster Wallace and Frida Kahlo, Wired to Create shows that we all have access to creative achievement and that, in essence, we are all wired to create.


About the Authors

Scott Barry Kaufman, PhD, is scientific director of the Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, where he investigates the measurement and development of intelligence, imagination, and creativity. He has written or edited six previous books, including Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined. He is also cofounder of The Creativity Post, host of The Psychology Podcast, and he writes the blog Beautiful Minds for Scientific American. Kaufman lives in Philadelphia.

Carolyn Gregoire is a senior writer at the Huffington Post, where she reports on psychology, mental health, and neuroscience. She has spoken at TEDx and the Harvard Public Health Forum and has appeared on MSNBC, the Today show, the History Channel, and HuffPost Live. Gregoire lives in New York City.


Preface

“When the artist is alive in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressive creature. He becomes interesting to other people. He disturbs, upsets, enlightens, and opens ways for better understanding. Where those who are not artists are trying to close the book, he opens it and shows there are still more pages possible.”

ROBERT HENRI, AMERICAN PAINTER

*

“The creative genius may be at once naive and knowledgeable, being at home equally to primitive symbolism and to rigorous logic. He is both more primitive and more cultured, more destructive and more constructive, occasionally crazier and yet adamantly saner, than the average person.”

FRANK X. BARRON, PSYCHOLOGIST AND CREATIVITY RESEARCHER

*

SEVERAL YEARS AGO, Scott gave a popular science rapper an extensive battery of personality tests. At the time, this Canadian entertainer, known as Baba Brinkman, was starring in an Off-Broadway show called The Rap Guide to Evolution, a hip-hop tribute to Charles Darwin and the theory of natural selection.

In the show, an animated Brinkman jumps energetically onstage, drops rhymes such as “The weak and the strong, who got it goin’on? We lived in the dark for so long,” and “Getting pregnant before marriage; it’s such a tragedy. Apparently it’s also a reproductive strategy.” He was one of the most bold and magnetic performers Scott had ever witnessed on the stage.

Brinkman’s test results were perplexing, revealing a personality riddled with contradictions. On the one hand, Scott noticed that Brinkman scored high in “blirtatiousness”, a personality trait characterized by the tendency to say whatever is on one’s mind. But at the same time, Brinkman didn’t seem extraverted offstage.

He then found that while Brinkman scored high in assertiveness, one hallmark of extraverted personalities, he was only slightly above average in enthusiasm, another big marker of extraversion. How could this charismatic performer, who seemed so full of energy, be only slightly above average in expressiveness behind the curtain? Scott dug deeper into the data to try to make sense of Brinkman’s puzzling personality.

“I get that remark all the time with people who hang out with me after the show,” Brinkman told Scott. “They say, ‘You’re so quiet, what happened to the guy onstage?’ I get in front of a crowd, I get charged up, and it’s like ‘I’m gonna get everybody into this.’ There has become this huge split, where I’m quite a temperate personality most of the time until I get on a stage and have a job to do, and then it’s like bam.”

As Scott delved deeper into Brinkman’s psyche, further paradoxes emerged. For one, he noticed that Brinkman was low in Narcissism, a trait that can be rampant among performers (and often rappers in particular). However, Brinkman did possess some of the individual qualities that together make up narcissism. Brinkman scored high in exhibitionism and superiority, two aspects of narcissism that had likely proved helpful to his career as an entertainer, while scoring low in the exploitativeness and entitlement aspects of narcissism. Brinkman also scored high in several positive characteristics that were undoubtedly beneficial to his career in music: emotional intelligence, social awareness, and the ability to manage stress. Scott noticed too that Brinkman was simultaneously oriented toward short term romantic affairs while demonstrating a strong ability to sustain relationships.

Brinkman’s personality was a case study in one of the most well-known findings in the history of creativity research: Creative people have messy minds.

Creative people also tend to have messy processes.

Picasso went through a rather chaotic process in creating his most famous painting, Guernica.

After being asked to create a mural for the Spanish Pavilion at the 1937 World’s Fair, the painter found himself spinning his wheels for three months while he searched for creative inspiration. Then, inspiration struck alongside tragedy. In the wake of the Nazis’ bombing of a small Basque town at the behest of the Spanish Nationalist forces, Picasso set out to illustrate the atrocities of Spain’s bloody civil war.

Just fifteen days after the bombing, Picasso went to work on a series of forty-five numbered sketches. He painstakingly drew numerous versions of each of the figures that would appear in the painting, the bull, the horse, the warrior, the woman crying, the mother with her dead child, before touching a single drop of oil to the eleven by twenty five foot canvas on which he would paint the mural.

For each figure, Picasso sketched a diverse set of variations. These sketches often did not exhibit a clear upward progression. In several cases, the figure he selected to appear in the finished painting ended up being one of the earliest he had sketched. The figure of the mother with her dead child featured in the final work, which depicted the mother holding the child in her arms and weeping, was very similar to the first two versions he sketched. But then, he went on to create two images that were wildly different, instead of the mother holding the child in her arms (as she appears in the painting) the discarded sketches show the mother carrying her child up a ladder. Picasso continued his experimentation with new figures even after moving on to the canvas, which often required him to paint over what was already there. He also explored a number of creative possibilities, such as a bull with a human head, that he ultimately didn’t pursue.

Guernica, Pablo Picasso

Although Picasso was a seasoned painter who had been creating masterpieces for decades by the time he took on the project, his process in painting Guernica appeared to be more chaotic than controlled, more spontaneous than linear. The surplus of ideas and sketches that Picasso produced did not show a clear progression toward the final painting. The process was characterized by a number of false starts, and as some art historians have noted, many of the sketches he drew appear to be superfluous to the final product.

Exploration and seemingly blind experimentation were key to Picasso’s creative process. Rather than creating a painting to reflect his own preexisting worldview, he seemed to actively build and reshape that worldview through the creative process. While he may have had a rough intuition, it’s likely that Picasso did not quite know where he was going, creatively, until he arrived there.

Picasso said of his own creative process, “A painting is not thought out and settled in advance. While it is being done, it changes as one’s thoughts change. And when it’s finished, it goes on changing, according to the state of mind of whoever is looking at it.”

The progression of Picasso’s Guernica sketches offers a fascinating glimpse into his imagination, but it raises as many questions as it offers answers. To what extent did the painter have even the slightest idea what he was doing? And if he didn’t know what he was doing, then how are we to make sense of his creative process, or of the creative process more generally?

Attempting to analyze Picasso’s personality offers little in terms of answers. The painter was a protean shapeshifter as both artist and man; he has been described as a difficult personality? who was intensely passionate and deeply cynical; “a towering creative genius one moment a sadistic manipulator the next.” Picasso himself hinted at these paradoxes in his life and work when he said, “I am always doing that which I cannot do,” and described the act of creation as one of destruction.

So how are we to make sense of the complex creative process and personality? It starts with embracing a very messy set of contradictions.

Introduction

Messy Minds

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” Walt Whitman

THE DEBATE OVER the creation of Guernica reflects a much larger schism in our understanding of the creative mind. The history of scientific thinking about creativity has been defined by polarization, starting with a popular 1926 theory of the creative process that set the stage for decades’ worth of debate among psychologists.

In his book The Art of Thought, British social psychologist Graham Wallas outlined the popular “four-stage model” of creativity. After observing and studying accounts of eminent inventors and creators, Wallas proposed that the creative process involves the following stages:

preparation, during which the creator acquires as much information as possible about a problem;

incubation, during which the creator lets the knowledge stew as the unconscious mind takes over and engages in what Einstein referred to as “combinatory play”;

illumination, during which an insight arises in consciousness, the natural culmination of a “successful train of association”; and a

verification stage, during which the creator fleshes out the insights, and communicates their value to others.

If only the creative process was so tidy. While psychologists continue to vigorously debate its workings, most agree that the traditional four stage model is far too simplistic. In his presidential address to the American Psychological Association in 1950, J. P. Guilford made a bold call for psychologists to take a closer look at creativity. He rejected the four stage model, calling it “very superficial from a psychological point of view,” because it tells us so little about the mental processes occurring during the act of creation.

As psychologists continued to put artists under the microscope to examine the creative process in action, they continued to find it to be far from a clear-cut, step by step process? Further research showed creative people to engage in rapid switching of thought processes and to exhibit nearly simultaneous coexistence between a number of these processes, from generating new ideas to expanding and working out the ideas, to critical reflection, to taking a distance from one’s work and considering the perspective of the audience.

These processes, of course, differ from one type of artist to another. When creating fiction, writers tend to exhibit a complex process of their own. Research conducted on a group of novelists painted a picture of the fiction writing process as a “voyage of discovery” that begins with a seed incident, an event or observation that inspires fascination and exploration and becomes the fertile ground on which creative growth occurs. Seed incidents tend to break the mind out of ordinary understanding and create new meanings for the writer, as evidenced by the writers’ descriptions of these events as “touching,” “intriguing,” “puzzling,’ “mysterious, “haunting,” and “overwhelming.” Commenting on a family incident that became the seed for a story, one writer said that the event seemed “full of meanings I couldn’t even begin to grasp.”

The seed incident is followed by a period of navigation between different creative worlds. At this stage, the writers oscillated between the “writing realm”, a place of retreat from the world where the writer can plan and reflect on what has been written, and the “fiction world” of their own making: an imaginative place in which the author engages with fiction characters and events as they unfold. For instance, after one writer began her story with the line “I am a poodle,” she imaginatively transformed herself into a dog, “allowing the sounds and sights and smells of a dog’s world to come to her.” She then switches mental gears, returning to the writing realm to reflectively evaluate and improve upon what she had written. This fiction world, which consists of imagination and fantasy, is a distinctly different realm of experience from the writing realm, where reflective thinking and rational deliberation occur. This constant toggling between imaginative and rational ways of thinking suggests a more complex, less linear account of fiction writing than the four stage model can accommodate.

Further analyses of creative writers continued to reject a step-by-step account of the creative process, suggesting that writing is likely to be considerably less controlled. Focusing on the contemporary novelist’s search for meaning and struggle to express a specific experience, another study emphasized that the writing process often moves forward even without the novelist’s full understanding of where the work is going. As the writer slowly gains a sense of the direction in which he is moving, he can begin to move forward deliberately and with greater clarity. The process reflects what Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson said of creativity and life, “The truth is, most of us discover where we are headed when we arrive.”

Psychologist Dean Keith Simonton, who has extensively studied the career trajectories of creative geniuses across the arts, sciences, humanities, and leadership, came to a strikingly similar conclusion. Based on a detailed case study of Thomas Edison’s creative career, Simonton suggested that even at the level of genius, creativity is a “messy business.”

Given the complex and ever changing nature of the creative process, it should come as little surprise that creative people tend to have messy minds. Highly creative work blends together different elements and influences in the most novel, or unusual, way, and these wide ranging states, traits, and behaviors frequently conflict with each other within the mind of the creative person, resulting in a great deal of internal and external tension throughout the creative process.

One of the most fascinating things about creative work is that it brings together and harmonizes these conflicting elements, which exist to some extent in everyone. Creative people are hubs of diverse interests, influences, behaviors, qualities, and ideas, and through their work, they find a way to bring these many disparate elements together. This is one of the reasons why creativity feels so ineffable, it is so many different things at the same time!

After interviewing creative people across various fields for over thirty years, the eminent psychologist of creativity Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi observed:

“If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an ‘individual,’ each of them is a ‘multitude.’”

Case in point: The brilliant journalist David Carr, a creature of many contradictions and a protean shapeshifter if there ever was one, said that he often reflected upon the many “selves” that he had possessed over his lifetime, from drug addict to media celebrity. “I spent time looking into my past to decide which of my selves I made up, the thug or the nice family man, and the answer turned out to be neither,” he reflected. “Whitman was right. We contain multitudes.”

Another prototype of the messy creative mind is the iconic Jazz Age entertainer Josephine Baker. The famous American in Paris, who will forever be remembered for dancing in a banana skirt in La Revue Négre, was not only a singer, dancer, and actress but also a French spy during World War II, a civil rights activist, a mother of twelve adopted children from around the world (her “rainbow tribe”), a rumored lover of men and women numbering in the thousands, and an eccentric character described as both deeply loving and volatile by those who knew her well. Baker’s “adopted” son Jean-Claude Baker wrote in his biography of the star, “I loved her, I hated her, I wanted desperately to understand her.”

Efforts to peel back Baker’s many masks seem to have only brought further questions to light. Feminist studies scholar Alicja Sowinska shines a light on Baker’s complexities:

“If she embodied a savage on stage, she would behave like a lady on the street; if men were dying for her as seductress, she would put on a man’s suit and bend gender boundaries; if she was called a “black Venus,” she would treat her head with a blonde wig. When the perception of her became too refined, she walked her pet leopard down the Champs-Elysées.”

David Foster Wallace proved to be similarly perplexing to those who attempted to understand him. Commentators have described the virtuoso author of Infinite Jest as both deeply fragile and intensely strong willed, at different times politically conservative and fiercely liberal, a writer of prose that is as precise as it is unwieldy, a master of writing about both highbrow and lowbrow topics. Wallace’s biographer, D. T. Max, said that he found himself surprised by the “intensity of violence” in the writer’s personality. However, he said, “On the other end of the spectrum, he was also this open, emotional guy, who was able to cry, who intensely loved his dogs. He was all those things.

This delicate, and sometimes extreme, dance of contradictions may be precisely what gives rise to the intense inner drive to create. In the 1960s, the research of Frank X. Barron examined this fundamental motivation. In a history making study, Barron invited a group of high profile creators to live on the University of California, Berkeley campus for a few days. The group, which included Truman Capote, William Carlos Williams, and Frank O’Connor, along with leading architects, scientists, entrepreneurs, and mathematicians, arrived, suitcases in hand, to bunk at a former fraternity house for several days. They spent time talking to one another, being observed, and completing various evaluations of their lives, work, and personalities, including tests of mental illness and creative thinking, which required them to answer some very personal questions.

What did Barron find that these highly creative people did differently? One thing that became quite clear is that while IQ and academic aptitude were relevant (to a moderate degree), they did not explain the particular spark of the creative mind.

This led Barron to claim that creativity might be distinct from IQ, a fairly revolutionary idea at the time, as it ran counter to the longtime assumption that intelligence, as measured by IQ tests, was the special sauce of creative genius. IQ testing was seen as the best route to understanding creativity by many academics in the first half of the twentieth century, but even their own data sets suggested that additional personality traits were important, and Barron’s findings added more cause for skepticism.

The Berkeley study also showed that the ingredients of creativity were too complex and multifaceted to be reduced to a single factor. The findings demonstrated that creativity is not merely expertise or knowledge but is instead informed by a whole suite of intellectual, emotional, motivational, and ethical characteristics.

The common strands that seemed to transcend all creative fields was an openness to one’s inner life, a preference for complexity and ambiguity, an unusually high tolerance for disorder and disarray, the ability to extract order from chaos, independence, unconventionality, and a willingness to take risks.

This new way of thinking about creative genius gave rise to some fascinating, and perplexing contradictions. In a study of writers, Barron and Donald MacKinnon found that the average creative writer was in the top 15 percent of the general population on all measures of psychopathology covered by the test. But here’s the kicker: They also found that creative writers scored extremely high on all the measures of psychological health!

The writers scored high on some measures of mental illness, but they also tended to score very high on “ego-strength,” a trait that’s characterized by “physiological stability and good health, a strong sense of reality, feelings of personal adequacy and vitality, permissive morality, lack of ethnic prejudice, emotional outgoingness and spontaneity, and intelligence. Barron’s creators were just as strong in adaptability and resourcefulness as they seemed to be pathological by other measures. They appeared to be little more than a loosely assembled bundle of paradoxes and perplexities. In order to determine how these writers could be simultaneously mentally healthier and more mentally ill than the average person, Barron began to question the value of the tests themselves and the labels we put on individual personalities.

As Barron began to make sense of what he observed, he came to identify a key consistency among creative people. Namely, these people seemed to become more intimate with themselves, they dared to look deep inside, even at the dark and confusing parts of themselves. Being open to and curious about the full spectrum of life, both the good and the bad, the dark and the light, may be what leads writers to score high on some characteristics that our society tends to associate with mental illness, while it can also lead them to become more grounded and self-aware. In truly facing themselves and the world, creative minded people seemed to find an unusual synthesis between healthy and “pathological” behaviors.

Armed with mounting evidence of these deep paradoxes, scientists now generally agree that creativity is not a single characteristic but a system of characteristics, and many theories now emphasize the multifaceted nature of creativity? The characteristics highlighted by these theories include general intellectual functioning, knowledge, and skills relevant to the activity; creative skills and thinking styles; psychological resources such as confidence, perseverance, and a willingness to take risks; inner motivation and a love of one’s work; a complex suite of positive and negative emotions; and environmental factors such as access to gatekeepers in the field and key resources.

To be creative, you don’t need to score off the charts on every single one of these characteristics. Creativity is not so much a sum as it is a multiplication of factors. What does that mean? Well, it may be possible to compensate for lower values on one dimension (like IQ) by capitalizing on another set of strengths (like motivation and perseverance). Indeed, these factors often interact and feed off each other over time, which can amplify levels of creative output.

Creative people not only cultivate a wide array of attributes but are also able to adapt, even flourish by making the best of the wide range of traits and skills that they already possess.

This ability to adapt to changing circumstances with fluidity and flexibility is reflected in three main “super-factors” of personality that are highly correlated with creativity: plasticity, divergence, and convergence.

Plasticity is characterized by the tendency to explore and engage with novel ideas, objects, and scenarios? Characteristics like openness to experience, high energy, and inspiration are all related to each other, forming the core of this drive for exploration.

Divergence reflects a nonconformist mindset and independent thinking and is related to impulsivity and lower levels of agreeableness and conscientiousness.

Convergence refers to the ability to conform, put in the hard effort necessary to exercise practicality, and make ideas tenable. Convergence consists of high conscientiousness, precision, persistence, critical sense, and sensitivity to the audience.

Individually and together, these diverse qualities encourage the development and expression of creativity.

These characteristics come into play during the two broad stages of the creative process: generation, in which ideas are produced and originality is sought out, and selection, which involves working out ideas and making them valuable to society. While characteristics associated with plasticity and divergence are most relevant when generating ideas, convergence is most important during the stage when ideas are being ironed out and made tenable. Considering that creativity involves both novelty and usefulness, this makes a lot of sense. While exploration and independent thinking can foster the generation of novel ideas, the more practical quality of convergence can help make them useful.

Divergence and convergence are just two of many seeming polarities associated with creativity. This is precisely the point. Creative people, being human, have at least some level of these varying characteristics within themselves, and they can choose to flexibly switch back and forth depending on what’s most helpful in the moment. Creative people seem to be particularly good at operating within a broad spectrum of personality traits and behaviors. They are both introverted and extraverted, depending on the situation and environment, and learn to harness both mindfulness and mind wandering in their creative process. As Csikszentmihalyi put it, “What dictates their behavior is not a rigid inner structure, but the demands of the interaction between them and the domain in which they are working.”

The Many Networks of Creativity

Today, we’re seeing evidence of this complexity at the neural level. It turns out that creativity does not involve only a single brain region or even a single side of the brain, as the “right brain” myth of creativity would have us believe. The creative process draws on the whole brain.

This complex process consists of many interacting cognitive systems (both conscious and unconscious) and emotions, with different brain regions recruited to handle each task and to work together as a team to get the job done.

One of the most important networks at play here is the “default network” of the brain, or as we’ll call it, the “imagination network.” Considered an exciting discovery by many cognitive neuroscientists, the identification of the default mode network has been described as a fortunate accident. For years, cognitive neuroscientists treated the subjective realm of inner experience as mere “noise,” useful only as a comparison to the more “productive” mental activity involved in sensory perception and engagement with the outside world. But when a few rogue cognitive neuroscientists began wondering what the brain actually does when it’s not engaged in an externally directed task, the importance of this network became abundantly clear?

Even that may be a huge understatement. Some scientists believe that the discovery of this brain network represents nothing less than a paradigm shift in cognitive neuroscience, from a focus on external, goal-directed task performance to the more nebulous yet omnipresent phenomenon of inner experience. As cognitive neuroscientist Kalina Christoff puts it,

“Such a paradigm shift may help us accept our drifting mind as a normal, even necessary, part of our mental existence-and may even enable us to try to take advantage of it in some creative, enjoyable way.”

What does the imagination network do? Well, let’s start with what it does not do. For starters, this brain network is not highly active when we take on leadership roles that focus on getting tasks completed (as opposed to leadership roles that focus on developing relationships), when we reason about physical objects (“I wonder what would happen if the wheels of this skateboard could rotate 360 degrees”), or when we imagine what another person knows about something (as opposed to their mental and emotional state). See the similarities?

All of these activities have to do, in some way, with our engagement with the immediate, concrete world outside our minds, which makes up much of our lives.

*


from

WIRED to CREATE

by Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire

get it at Amazon.com

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