The Genesis Project Episode Five

As Grace was preparing for her next meeting with Dr. Stone, she wanted to pursue how creative ideas emerge from the brain. Were ideas more often spontaneous, or the result of a more sustained development? She remembered that Paul McCartney said that he woke up and immediately wrote down the immortal song Yesterday. Was that common?

“Actually, Grace there are two brain pathways for creativity. What Paul McCartney described is the System 1 pathway. These are more commonly called aha moments. The System 2 pathway is more slow where creation and analysis are combined.”

“Do people have just one of the pathways?”

“No. Actually some people can work at both levels. In some cases, a person may follow an aha moment with more critical analysis where they do the creative work of expanding and/or revising their original idea.”

“The aha pathway is more common with those with more experience or expertise in the area where the idea originates. But one thing that you need to know about the aha pathway is the idea developed this way often don’t seem to be that great after some time has elapsed. There can be a lot of false aha’s. Or the original aha idea needs considerable work to make it usable.”

“What I’m beginning to wonder about is whether creativity can be developed or do I need to hire for this ability?”

“Again, let me share with you what I know as a neuroscientist. The mind is not static. We use the term neuroplasticity to describe how the mind can grow. Based upon that, I’d say you can develop the creative talent of your people.”

“What about creativity training programs? Do those work?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t have the expertise to answer that question. If its ok with you, I’d like to bring a colleague, Shirley Jenkins, to join us the next time. She’s a neuro researcher with expertise in how we can train our brains.”

“That would be great. I hope she enjoys comfort food.”

* * *

“I really do think inspiration comes from day-to-day life. I think there’s things that pique our interest – not necessarily aha! Moments – but things that just kinda make you raise your eyebrows. And those are often the moments that are the seeds of inspiration. Sometimes they’re in a great conversation with friends, sometimes they’re things you see live, something you read, a movie trailer you watch… I think inspiration is kind of laid out there. One thing we have to practice is recognizing when it happens, and recording that moment so we can come back to it..” – Phil Kay (poet, writer, film maker)

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