How does creativity work?

neurons_stock_footage_3d_model_39f42b32-49a8-4efb-bdcd-f98b3007a2d5-1024x575

Besides focus and concentration, two other abilities are involved:

Defocused attention: the tendency to not focus excusively on the relevant aspects of a situation, but notice also seemingly irrelevant aspects. It is only when one does not yet know what are the relevant dimensions—or when those assumed to be relevant turn out not to be—that defocused attention is of use.

  • High sensitivity even to subliminal impressions; stimuli that are perceived but of which one is not conscious of having perceived
  • Risk talking
  • Tolerance of ambiguity & delayed gratification
  • leaning toward non conformity and unconventionality

Flat associative hierarchies: the steepness of one’s associative hierarchy is measured by comparing the words generated in response to stimulus words (those who generate many have flat associative hierarchy)

Thinking modes: thought varies in a continuum between these two extremes. This capacity to shift between analytic and associative thought is sometimes referred to as contextual focus.

  • Associative thought is contrasted with a rule-based, convergent, or analytic mode of thought that is conducive to analyzing relationships of cause and effect between items already believed to be related. In associative thought one considers items in detail or considers multiple items at once, which facilitates detecting likenesses and integrating them
  • Analytic thought is believed to be related to what Freud termed ‘secondary process’ material. In analytic thought one considers items in a compact or ‘atomic’ form which facilitates mental operations on them.

Gabora, L. (2010). Revenge of the ‘neurds’: Characterizing creative thought in terms of
the structure and dynamics of human memory. Creativity Research Journal, 22(1), 1-13.

Image: http://www.zmescience.com/science/neurology-science/neuron-database-06042015/

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Matters of Memory_Kandel’s “In search of Memory” Part A

Matters of memory and learning are at the epicentre of Kandel’s research. In bis book, “In Search of Memory ” he describes his experiments with Aplysia. In fact, it was through the experiments with Aplysia that led Kandel to realize that the number of synapses in the brain is not fixed -it changes with learning!

Consistent with the one-process theory, the same site can give rise to both short-term and long-term memory in habituation and sensitization. Moreover, in each case a change in synaptic strength occurs. But consistent with the two-process theory, the mechanisms of short- and long-term change are fundamentally different. Short-term memory produces a change in the function of the synapse, strengthening or weakening preexisting connections; long-term memory requires anatomical changes. Repeated sensitization training (practice) causes neurons to grow new terminals, giving rise to long-term memory, whereas habituation causes neurons to retract existing terminals. Thus, by producing profound structural changes, learning can make inactive synapses active or active synapses inactive. (page 126)

Kandel, E. R., 2006, In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind, Book available here

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Matters of Memory_Eric Kadel and CPEB3 Prions

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(Credit: Lab of David Sulzer, PhD, Columbia University Medical Center)

The authors argue that the long term mice memories are preserved with Prions (protein infectious particles). Although regular prions cause damage to the cells there is a type of prions identified in mice as CPEB3 that work inside the neurons to maintain long-term memories.

Prion aggregates renew themselves by continually recruiting newly made soluble prions into the aggregates. “This ongoing maintenance is crucial,” said Dr. Kandel. “It’s how you remember, for example, your first love for the rest of your life.”

This discovery, states Kandel in his “In Search of Memory”, raised the intriguing possibility—so far only that—that spatial maps may become fixed when an animal’s attention triggers the release of dopamine in the hippocampus and that dopamine initiates a selfperpetuating state also mediated by CPEB.

THE IMPORTANCE OF ATTENTION IN STABILIZING THE SPATIAL MAP raises another question: Is the spatial map, a map formed by learning, similar in all of us? Specifically, do men and women use the same strategies to find their way around an environment? (…) Gender differences in forming the spatial map take on additional significance when considered in a broader context: To what degree do men’s and women’s brain structures and cognitive styles differ? Are those differences innate, or do they stem from learning and socialization?

References

Long-term Memories Are Maintained by Prion-like Proteins, Article Published in July 2, 2015, Full article available here

Kandel, E. R., 2006, In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind, Book available here
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The empty brain by Robert Epstein

header_ESSAY-GS3522985.jpgArticle in AEON by Robert Epstein on why our brains should resist the IP metaphor.
https://aeon.co/essays/your-brain-does-not-process-information-and-it-is-not-a-computer

In Liane Gabora’s “Regenge of the Neurds” the same argument is being made:

In a computer memory each possible input is stored in a unique address. Retrieval is thus a matter of looking at the address in the address register and fetching the item at the specified location. Since there is no overlap of representations, there is no means of creatively forging new associations based on newly perceived similarities.

References

Gabora, L., 2010, ‘Revenge of the ‘neurds’: Characterizing creative thought in terms of
the structure and dynamics of human memory’. Creativity Research Journal, 22(1), 1-13.

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