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The Creative Brain: The Science of Genius Paperback – 1 Dec 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (1 Dec 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452287812
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452287815
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.3 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 358,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Synopsis

A revolutionary analysis of the nature of genius draws on the latest neuroscientific research to propose that a genius is able to tap into the unconscious mind in ways that the normal person cannot, allowing unique creative breakthroughs, and examines the link between creativity and mental illness and ways to enhance personal creative potential. Or

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Format: Paperback
As Nancy Andreasen explains in the first chapter, "This book has been bubbling and churning in my brain for nearly thirty years, and I am grateful that I have finally found time to write it...[and now] I'll be at your side as we embark on a wonderful exploratory adventure: examining what the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen once called 'the spark of the divine fire.' Our mission is especially exciting and novel because we are not just exploring the nature of creativity, but also the [begin italics] neuroscience [end italics] of creativity, a difficult mission that few have as yet attempted...I wanted to write about how extremely gifted people have created things that have made our lives, our society, and our civilization richer and more beautiful." She succeeds admirably in this book, a brilliant achievement.

Heaven knows, there is no shortage of especially creative people to discuss and Andreasen selected several dozen. However different they may be in most respects, what do they share in common? "We have learned that highly creative people have particular personality and cognitive traits, such as openness to experience, curiosity, and a tolerance of ambiguity. We have learned that they often get their ideas as flashes of insight, through moments of inspiration, or by going into a state at the edge of chaos [a state of mind that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi characterizes as "flow"], where ideas float, soar, collide, and connect.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kirsten Ball on 30 Dec 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a good book for anyone interested in the nature of intelligence and creativity. If you are hoping for an exploration of the anatomy of the human brain however you will only leave with a few pages of information. I think this book is more of a statistical and scientific psychology book, instead of a neuroscience book. Though this book does look comprehensively into its topics including the different types of genius and creativity, what makes a person a genius and the link between mental illness and genius. It made me think deeply about a variety of different issues and I have learnt about many impressive figures throughout history. Though I do think Andreasen looks in too much depth at different geniuses and the details of older studies. The way the text is written is also unusual for a scientific book, as the book seems to be held together through reference to a poem. Though a good solid body of knowledge. Not as exciting as some of the books I have read, though certainly worth a read. I may however have given this book 3 stars if the research into genius hadn't suggested I was more likely to become one. lol
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 13 reviews
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Creativity is not intelligence 11 Mar 2007
By Glenn Cardwell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very engaging book that looks at the components of creativity and the characteristics of a creative person. It becomes clear that creativity is not always appreciated until sometime after the idea itself. Mendel and Copernicus were never classed as creative until after their death. The artist van Gogh was not considered creative until others deemed him to be so. To me, one of the most fascinating chapters is the link between creative genius and socially labelled 'madness'. There appears to be a link between eccentricity, psychiatric disorders and moments of brilliance. Does the brain need some 'disorganisation' before it reorganises the data in a different and unique way to create a genius idea? This and many aspects of creativty are discussed. Whether you are a student of intelligence and thinking, or whether you are curious as to why you or others think differently, then you will throughly enjoy this book by a very clever author who got a PhD in Renaissance English literature before becoming a psychiatrist. That blend of background alone should alert you to a fascinating read. You will learn that intelligence does not make you creative. As a bonus, she even gives you a chapter on how to think creatively yourself. I'd love to have a long lunch with Dr Andreasen.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
When I Grow Up, I Want to be Creative! 28 Sep 2009
By Laura Kim - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The objective of this review is to critique and summarize this book for educational purposes: I am taking Introductory Neuroscience at the Georgia Institute of Technology and was assigned to find a book with a topic of interest that pertains to the science of the brain, read it, and summarize my thoughts on it. The topic of creativity is of extreme interest to me and would rather be creative than "book-smart." Overall, the book was easy to read and interesting, although I did find it to be a very surface level introduction into the science of creativity.
The Creative Brain begins with an introduction to what creativity is and is measured in terms of originality, utility (how useful the creation is), and its final product. Author Nancy Andreasen colorfully describes many instances of creative thinking at work, from the moment a person obtained a stone and realized its potential use as a tool, to the creation of beautiful and awe-inspiring masterpieces of artists. What separates these people from others that give them extraordinary creativity that only a handful of individuals possess? According to the author creativity is found and further enriched in terms of nature and nurture. One possible example of "hereditary" creativity is the Huxley family. Thomas Henry Huxley was a notable English biologist. His grandson Julian Huxley was an anthropologist who worked on the theory of evolution. Andrew Huxley was a distinguished physiologist who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on neural impulses and muscle contraction. Aldous Huxley was a novelist who famously wrote Brave New World in 1932. One possible example of nurtures influence on creativity is, as the author describes, the cradle of creativity. The cradle of creativity explains why there exists certain periods of time when creative contributions occur in clusters and then disappear for years after: a nurturing environment, rich in artistic or scientific thinking, are conducive to producing creative outcomes. One such example is the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in the U.S. Inventions like the cotton gin, telegraph, telephone, light bulb, assembly line, and airplane all occurred within a relatively short period of time. Ultimately though, creativity is a product of nature AND nurture, genetics AND environment. An example of this was Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti. These two artists were raised in households with no exposure to art but both displayed a unique ability towards art (nature). Eventually, both were taught and reared by artistic masters who helped these young artists cultivate and train their artistic abilities (nurture). The book also discusses the relationship that exists between creative genius and mental illness. Because creative people view the world with an unbiased point of view they are able to make connections that are otherwise non-existent in normal people. But this same unbiased point of view can sometimes be vulnerable to connections that are dangerous or incorrect. Take mathematic genius John Nash who displayed schizotypal behavior at the age of thirty. He has been quoted saying "the ideas that I have about supernatural beings came to me the same way that my mathematical ideas did, so I took them seriously."
The book gives many examples of different types of creativity and is well organized in thought and structure. Because of her background knowledge in fine arts she offers a lot of knowledge on creative artists. The language used by the author is very easy to understand and it is obvious that she is very passionate about her studies in creativity because it makes the book that much more interesting to read. Most of the studies cited in this book are anecdotal because of the subjective ways creativity can be measured. Andreasen herself has conducted her own studies of creativity through the Iowa Writer's Workshop Study. One of the aspects of the book I found to be less interesting was the last chapter which describes what can be done to increase creativity in adults and infants. For adults, it described mental exercises like learning new things and meditation (that's right, meditation!). For children, it had recommendations like limiting the time available to watch television, interactive reading, and emphasizing diversity and curiosity in the young mind. It was written as if these were the steps that would guarantee a more creative individual. It was particularly obnoxious to learn the tips for increasing an infants' creativity levels because it reminded me of the movie "Nanny Diaries" where a baby-sitter works for a rich family that insists French culture, organic food and museum visits are necessary to raise their young son. Whatever happened to the traditional ideas of childhood like climbing trees, playing with your Sega Genesis game console, and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Ultimately, the last chapter read to me like a self-help/new age themed pamphlet whose objective is to create baby geniuses in five simple steps (!).
Overall, the book was a very interesting read and I would recommend it for people new to the arena of neuroscience and creative thinking. One of my favorite quotes from the book is that:
"A child who reads a book about Robin Hood or Harry Potter is learning to visualize and imagine for herself... once shown to her on film... instead of the many Harrys occurring in the minds of children, there is now one "standard Harry" that will passively adopt rather than create on their own. As Darwin has pointed out, evolution thrives on variation."
The author has a colorful way of describing situations throughout the book that make the actual task of reading it, fly by.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
"Perspectives on the Creative Brain" 14 Dec 2007
By Russell A. Rohde MD - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"The Creative Brain: The Science of Genius", by Nancy Andreasen, Plume Book, NY 2006. ISBN 0-432-28781-2. PC 197/181 pages includes Preface, Biblio., and Index plus 33 photos/Illus. 8 1/2" x 5 1/2" (Prev. publ. as "The Creating Brain")

A delightful, informative and instructive book for anyone interested in or charged with task of optimal nurturing human potential. Dr. Andreasen, PhD (Lit.) also psychiatrist MD, addresses the nature of creativity, tackles the co-existence of genius and insanity issue, queries what creates the creative brain and as denouement, expounds upon building better brains.

The clarity of her writing, reviews of literary material on creativity, presentation of findings of her own research links between creativity and insanities, and concise up-to-date reviews of neuroscience anatomy and revelations provided by mMRI, sMRI and fMRI observations is excellent for both scientist and non-scientists. She concludes on techniques to maximize nurturing to enhance maximum potential of inherent creativity in a manner clearly timely (TV, urbanism, etc.) in a manner pleasureable to read. Having read more than a dozen books devoted to definition and origin of genius/gifted/creative children, this book stands singularly as an excellent read that is both timely and not in need of glossaries for jargon terminology. The inclusion of 'life-changing exercises for your brain' is sufficient reason to read this treatise.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Good Introduction to the Neuroscience of Creativity 18 Jun 2011
By Pradeep Anand - Published on Amazon.com
I recommend this book to people who would like an introduction to the neuroscience of creativity. The author is an MD, who has a PhD in English Renaissance Literature. Despite the complex nature of the topic, straddling arts and science, the book was an effortless, breezy read but I had to go back and reread my marked/highlighted lines and pages, to commit them to some alcove in my brain.
So, what did I gain from reading this book? Some insights, such as:
* "...most creative people are smart but don't have to be extremely smart. An IQ around 120 is good enough...except for scientists."
* "Personality traits that define the creative individual include openness to experience, adventuresomeness, rebelliousness, individualism, sensitivity, playfulness, persistence, curiosity and simplicity."
* The key components of the creative people: 1. Slip into a state of intense concentration and focus. 2. The muse sits on my shoulder. 3. Prone to have a wandering mind, flooded with ideas and thoughts and a tendency not to censor them. 4. Disengaged, dispassionate observers, and seem aloof, detached and even coldhearted, at times.
* "During the creative process the brain begins by disorganizing, making links between shadowy forms of objects or symbols or words or remembered experiences that have not been previously linked. Out of this disorganization, self-organization eventually emerges and takes over in the brain." (Shades of Chaos Theory!).
* How the brain's self-organization process, when done right can lead to a new idea or creativity. Done wrong, it can lead to psychosis. There is a correlation between genius and insanity, between creativity in children and the rate of mental illness in biological parents.
* Environments that cradle and nurture creativity. (Please read the book for the list)
* Reiteration of neuroplasticity and prime times for learning in life.
The book's examples are from people in liberal arts, including Iowa Writer's Workshop, but they immediately spark ideas and correlations to individuals in other domains. I had some personal insights regarding my own experience in writing An Indian in Cowboy Country. An Indian in Cowboy Country: Stories from an Immigrant's Life
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
this book is a reprint of "the creating brain" 15 Sep 2007
By Thomas E. Simpson Pa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is a bit disconcerting to purchase a book and find that it has previously been sold. with another title(which I had already purchased and read). Is this ethical?

T E Simpson
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