Fueling Our Creative Brain

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Are people fascinated by so many things in the world because of their intellectual development, or does consciously feeding our mind stimulate high level thought and creative ability?

Writer Steve Pavlina poses that idea in his book Personal Development for Smart People: The Conscious Pursuit of Personal Growth.

“What you learn in one area can often be applied to others,” he writes. “For example, Leonardo da Vinci, considered a genius by any reasonable standard, achieved competence across a diverse set of fields, including art, music, science, anatomy, engineering, architecture, and many others.

“While some would argue that such wide-ranging interests were a result of his intelligence, I think it’s more likely that they were the cause of it – or at least a major contributing factor.”

Pavlina adds, “By exposing himself to such a rich variety of input, da Vinci found patterns that others never noticed. This vastly amplified his problem-solving abilities. What’s considered commonplace in one field often has creative applications in other disciplines.”

One of the questions in a self-test from the Gifted Development Center is “Do you often connect seemingly unrelated ideas?”

One way to help track those ideas and stimulate more awareness of a wider range of disciplines – which may turn out to be related – is to use mind mapping or idea mapping, such as developed by Tony Buzan, author of The Mind Map Book.

A post on the Developing Intelligence site (Training The Mind: Transfer Across Tasks Requiring Interference Resolution) asks, “What if training ourselves on one task yielded improvements in all other tasks we perform? This is the promise of the cognitive training movement, which is increasingly showing that such ‘far transfer’ of training is indeed possible, while short of being ‘universal transfer.’

“Interestingly, this phenomenon might be most likely to occur for some of the most abstract and challenging cognitive functions.”

Connessione and eclectic thinking like da Vinci

In her article Everything Is Connected, creativity coach Linda Dessau explains that in his book How to think like Leonardo da Vinci, Michael Gelb defines the concept of Connessione as “A recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena. Systems thinking.”

Dessau adds that Gelb “describes the many ‘playful, imaginary combinations’ that Leonardo made… As artists we delight in ‘playful, imaginary combinations’ – we’re in the business of creating things that didn’t exist before.

“Our playfulness can be seen when we manipulate objects, words or ideas into new forms simply because it delights us to do it.”

Activating our genetic potential

Many artists and scientists collect and are fascinated by a wide range of stuff and ideas in current and previous cultures, and live in complex environments.

In his article How to be a genius (New Scientist magazine), David Dobbs declares, “What we call talent or genius illustrates vividly what the past 25 years have taught us about gene expression – that our genetic potentials are activated and realised only through environment and experience.

“Natural buoyancy merely gets you off the bottom. You rise to the top by pumping yourself up.”

He asks, “So is the ideal of innate genius dead? If not, should we kill it? Certainly a clear-eyed analysis shows that ‘genius’ is really a set of exceptional skills cultivated through disciplined study.”

Excitabilities and advanced development

One of the central ideas of Polish psychiatrist and psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski, MD, PhD (1902 – 1980) was that individuals having strong “overexcitabilities” (OEs) were good candidates for higher level development.

These OEs are categorized as psychomotor, intellectual, imaginative, emotional and sensual, and many writers and educators use them as a basis for identifying gifted and talented individuals.

Intellectual Overexcitability is defined as “processing information, and decision making localized in the cognitive sphere. It is manifested as a drive to ask probing questions, quest for knowledge, theoretical thinking, reverence for logic, preoccupation with theoretical problems, etc.; most frequently associated with exceptional abilities in children.”

But what about our growth as teens and adults? Does using digital technology affect our brains? Does Googling make us stupid, as writer Nicholas Carr asks in his Atlantic magazine article?

For more, see the longer article: Pumping our teeming brain.