Saturday, May 8, 2010

Studying Creativity in New Mexico

We have many strengths in New Mexico, but one of the elements that brings together our talents in technology and the arts (and much more) is creativity.

Local researcher Rex Jung (Mind Research Institute, UNM Department of Neurosurgery) has made that the focus of his research -- featured in today's New York Times:

Charting Creativity: Signposts of a Hazy Territory

Grab a timer and set it for one minute. Now list as many creative uses for a brick as you can imagine. Go.

The question is part of a classic test for creativity, a quality that scientists are trying for the first time to track in the brain.

They hope to figure out precisely which biochemicals, electrical impulses and regions were used when, say, Picasso painted "Guernica," or Louise Nevelson assembled her wooden sculptures. Using M.R.I. technology, researchers are monitoring what goes on inside a person's brain while he or she engages in a creative task.

Yet the images of signals flashing across frontal lobes have pushed scientists to re-examine the very way creativity is measured in a laboratory.

"Creativity is kind of like pornography — you know it when you see it," said Rex Jung, a research scientist at the Mind Research Network in Albuquerque. Dr. Jung, an assistant research professor in the department of neurosurgery at the University of New Mexico, said his team was doing the first systematic research on the neurology of the creative process, including its relationship to personality and intelligence.

Like many researchers over the past 30 years or so, Dr. Jung has relied on a common definition of creativity: the ability to combine novelty and usefulness in a particular social context....

More at: Charting Creativity: Signposts of a Hazy Territory


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