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The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius (English Edition) [Kindle Edition]

Nancy C. Andreasen

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“Our leading authority on creativity reveals herself with this splendid book as one of the most valuably creative persons of our time.”--
Kurt Vonnegut

(Kurt Vonnegut 2005-08-01)

"I've been a novelist for 37 years and suddenly I understand myself better. Nancy Andreasen's The Creating Brain is a fascinating journey in to the nature and secrets of the creative brain. The sections on Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci are amazing, and the concluding exercises could be life changing."--David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of The Brotherhood of the Rose  and Creepers
(David Morrell 2005-08-01)

“Drawing on her expertise as a scientist, physician, and scholar of literature, Nancy Andreasen gives a clear, readable, synoptic account of current knowledge in human creativity.”--Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Education and Cognition, Harvard Graduate School of Education

(Howard Gardner 2005-08-01)

"Neuroscientists, until recently, shied away from the big questions--such as 'what is consciousness,' 'what is abstract thinking,' or (the topic of this book) 'what is creativity'--as being empirically unapproachable. Nancy Andreasen's book comes as a welcome antidote to this inherent conservatism and shows us how creativity can be approached scientifically. In a market flooded with 'new age' books on creativity, Dr. Andreasen's meticulously researched contribution comes as a breath of fresh air."--V.S. Ramachandran, MD, Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California-San Diego, and author of A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness
(V.S. Ramachandran 2005-08-01)

"An expert analysis of the connections between extraordinary creativity, mental illness, intelligence and the social environment. The complex subject matter is punctuated with intriguing research. . . . Andreasen leaves us with hope that the potential exists to enhance the creative capacity in our children and in ourselves."--Publishers Weekly



(Publishers Weekly 2005-09-12)

"This splendid, quick read should be a compulsory assignment for those students of the humanities who think themselves irrevocably bored with biology of any sort, including what they will find to be the fascinating links to the human brain's most powerful cultural tool, the capacity for extraordinary creativity. . . . I highly recommend it."--Floyd Bloom, professor emeritus of neuropharmacology, The Scripps Research Institute and former editor-in-chief of Science
(Floyd E. Bloom 2005-09-01)

"Andreasen writes with clarity and ease, interspersing personal and scientific opinion. She makes wonderful connections between the arts and sciences, which surely spring from her background in literature. And she provides a succinct overview of diverse fields of investigation, as well as providing a perspective that reaches beyond the usual approaches to understanding the relationship between creativity and the brain."--Nature
(Mark Lythgoe Nature 2005-11-10)

"Ahead of the curve. . . . Ms. Andreasen is lucid in arguing that with creativity—as with most human traits—a strict opposition between nature and nurture is too simplistic. . . . Ms. Andreasen's book describes the first steps in what should be a long and fascinating effort to understand true creative genius."—Christopher F. Chabris, Wall Street Journal
(Christopher F. Chabris Wall Street Journal 2005-12-30)

"As if she were speaking with you at dinner, she explores the earliest record of human creativity . . . The text cleverly uses the autobiographical account of a series of renowned artists, scientists, and writers to illustrate their special insights into their own creative process. . . . Grandmotherly advice from Dr. Andreasen, down to the choice of bedtime reading to the children, is a warm and unique end to a book on the neurobiology of creativity."--American Journal of Psychiatry
(American Journal of Psychiatry 2006-01-01)

"Readers familiar with Dr. Andreasen's previous works. . . will recognize her personal, conversational narrative and the breadth of her knowledge."--Sandra Patterson, American Journal of Psychiatry
(Sandra Patterson American Journal of Psychiatry 2006-01-01)

"This is fascinating reading (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Washington Post Book World 2006-02-26)


Where does the unique originality we call “creativity” come from? Michelangelo was a stonecutter’s son, and Shakespeare was the son of a middle-class businessman. What causes some people to soar free of their limited lives and make astonishingly creative contributions?

In her elegant, fascinating tour of creativity and the brain, Nancy Andreasen, professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa and the winner of the National Medal of Science, shows us that creativity is not the same as intelligence nor the same as skill. Rather, we discover, the essence of creativity is to shape the materials of life in new and unexpected ways.

Andreasen explores how the human brain achieves creative breakthroughs—in art, literature, music, and science—the role of patron or mentors, the possession of an omnivorous vision, the value of not having a “standard education,” and the question of “genius and insanity.”

The author shows is what extraordinary creators such as Mozart, Henri Poincaré, and Coleridge, said about creating and how they reflect special qualities of creative people and the creative process. She describes her fascinating interview with the playwright Neil Simon in which he discussed how his mind works. Andreasen’s studies of participants in the Iowa Writer’s Workshop suggest that creativity may be inherited and sometimes associated with mental disorders, through neither is necessary for creativity to flourish.

The author proposes that creativity can and should be encouraged and offers advice to nurture it in both children and adults


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 1831 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 197 Seiten
  • Verlag: Dana Press (22. Februar 2011)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B004P5NQ5M
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Aktiviert
  • Verbesserter Schriftsatz: Nicht aktiviert
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #447.252 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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44 von 48 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A first-order approximation to a neuroscience of creativity 10. November 2005
Von Dr. Lee D. Carlson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
It is accurate to say that there has been more creative energy released in the last twenty-five years than any than the last twenty-five hundred. This is due not only to the number of people that are actually alive now, but also to the vast amount of knowledge that is readily available. Modern technology is responsible for the availability of this knowledge, and the technology itself was the result of human creativity and ingenuity. In addition, creative people can now communicate in ways they could not before, thanks to the rise of the Internet. Further, innovation has been strongly encouraged, not primarily by educational institutions and hierarchies, but by the business community. This is an interesting development, and one that shows every indication of continuing. The academy, which used to be considered a refugee camp for the creative mind, is no longer a place where one can pursue and develop original ideas without extreme difficulty.

In this highly interesting book, the author acknowledges that the environment is important in nurturing creativity, but she also wants to understand what mechanisms in the brain are responsible for it. An understanding of these mechanisms is extremely important, for it could point the way to better methods of enhancing creativity, either by using pharmaceuticals, with techniques from genetic engineering, or possibly with radical changes in the environment. The author is a neuroscientist, and not a philosopher, and so her analysis is based more on what is observed in the laboratory, and not mere speculations from the armchair. Her goal is to obtain a neuroscience of creativity, which considering the paucity of research in this area, is a goal that one hopes she (and other researchers) will succeed in reaching.

One of the first issues that the author addresses in the book is the relation (if any) between intelligence and creativity. Reviewing the history of the study between these two notions, and noting creative people have been equated with "geniuses", she concludes that, in general, one can conclude that a certain level of intelligence is needed to make original contributions, one needs another faculty of the brain in order to do so. It is not clear from this discussion whether she believes that this entails a modular view of the brain, i.e. one in which the brain consists of specialized modules for various tasks, one of these modules being for tasks requiring creativity.

The author is also careful to note that originality, creativity, or novelty are concepts that are dependent on the context in which ideas arise and in the perceived utility of these ideas. In this regard, she discusses the work of the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who believed in the existence of "true creativity". As summarized by the author, Csikszentmihalyi held that creativity should be understood in terms of the relationship between a `domain', which is a particular area of knowledge; a `field' that is a collection of experts in the domain, and a `person' who actually introduces novel ideas into the domain under the auspices of the field. Motivated by these considerations, the author holds that creativity must involve originality, utility, and must lead to product of some kind. These requirements, at least on the surface, are reasonable, but there are difficulties that arise when one attempts to check them for a particular idea or concept. One issue that immediately arises in this regard is attempting to check whether indeed the concept or creation is indeed novel, or whether it was actually contained in prior ideas or creations. The issue of whether an idea was actually contained in prior ones comes up quite frequently in the field of automated mathematical discovery, which seeks to emulate, in a machine, human creative mathematical ability. Because of the deductive nature of mathematics, the progression of ideas must follow logically from those in prior ones, i.e. in the premises. But the "new" ideas must be different in some sense from the ones that they are logically derived from. It can be become very debatable whether these ideas were indeed original, or whether they were merely "contained in the premises."

The book would not be complete of course if the author did not discuss in detail her ideas on the neuroscience behind creativity. For the general reader, she includes some elementary discussion on brain anatomy as a warm-up. In her brief treatment of the functions of the brain she mentions the current debate as to the executive functions of the brain, i.e. whether there is a central "executive" in the brain that decides what changes are to occur. As an alternative to a central authority, the author mentions the view of the brain as being a `self-organizing' system. This is currently a popular view of the brain among physicists, and for the author it helps to explain what she calls "ordinary creativity." However, the author clearly believes that something else is needed to explain "extraordinary" creativity: unconscious processes such as the process of `free association.' The author refers to her experimental work on using neuroimaging technology to find out which areas of the brain are active during free association. Her work is also dependent on the notion of `episodic memory', which she characterizes as memory that is linked to the personal experiences of the individual. Her neuroimaging experiments indicated that the association cortex was active when the subject was engaging in random unconscious free association. She is careful to admit though that a lot more research is needed to find the neural basis behind extraordinary creativity, but her suspicion is that it involves making links between objects or concepts that were not linked before. These associative links "run wild" and create new connections, resulting in a disorganized mental state. This motivates her to study the connection between creativity and insanity, a topic that she also discusses at some length in the book, along with hints and exercises that individuals can use to enhance their creativity.
32 von 34 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A Tour of Creativity and the Mind 10. März 2006
Von STEPHEN PLETKO - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe

QUESTION: What do Neil Simon (playwright), Mozart (music composer), and Friedrich Kekule (organic chemist) have in common?

ANSWER: Each was considered to be a creative genius.

This slim book by Dr. Nancy Andreasen attempts to explain how the above people and those like them create great works of art and come up with original ideas in the sciences. Does their creative genius reside in their neuroanatomy?

Andreasen explains more about her book:

"[My] book is primarily about extraordinary creativity. 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."

Each of this book's six chapters is divided into subsections. Below I will give the title of the chapter (in upper case) and then give the titles of each subsection so as to give an overview of the entire book:


The evolution of concepts of creativity; Creativity vs intelligence; Creativity and society: who decides?; What is creativity.


The scientific study of creativity; The creative person; The creative process; The case-study method and introspective descriptions of the creative process; Five introspective accounts (written by five people who represent extraordinary creativity).


Creativity and the brain; How does the brain think?; A primer of brain anatomy; The complexity of brain networks; The human brain as a self-organizing system; What is human thought?; Unconscious thought; The neural basis of extraordinary creativity.


Early explorations of genius and insanity: the anecdotal era; Improving diagnostic precision: the quantitative era; Is there a connection between creativity and schizophrenia?; Mental illness, creativity, and the brain; What are the effects of treating mental illness in creative people?


The role of nurture; Renaissance Florence as a Lab for the case study of nature and nurture (note that Andreasen's PhD is in Renaissance Literature); What kind of environment nurtures Creativity?; The role of nature: innate gifts and hereditary factors; Nature vs nurture: What creates the creative brain?


What is brain plasticity?; Plasticity and the creative brain; Ordinary creativity and extraordinary creativity; (Creative enhancing) mental exercises for adults; Tips for teaching tots; The creating brain: Quo Vadis.

If you peruse the above chapter subsections, you will find that the actual amount of neuroscience presented in this book is minimal. This is actually justified since the amount of research in this area is slim. What Andreasen does is actually concentrate on the mind rather than to analyze only the brain in order to understand creativity.

This book contains almost 35 black and white photos and illustrations, most of which I found interesting.

Don't worry! This book is easy to read. You don't have to have a PhD to understand it.

There are a few problems with this book. I will state three that I consider major ones:

(i) This book's title is "The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of [Creative] Genius." As explained above, this book deals more with the mind than with the brain. As well, the neuroscience in this book is minimal. (Some people may get angry at this expecting the entire book to be about the brain and neuroscience. Personally, I was not angry but surprised.) I think a more accurate title would have been: "The Creating Mind: With Some Neuroscience Explaining Creative Genius."

(ii) The preface made me wince. Andreasen begins it with "When I was a kindergartener, I was IQ-tested and declared a genius." She then goes on and briefly describes her life with this label. Why?

(iii) The author attempts to imply that Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein suffered from mental illness. Maybe she's justified in saying this since she has a degree in psychiatry. However, one of my degrees is in psychology and I would say that she is reading too much into Newton's and Einstein's idiosyncrasies.

Finally, I had a difficult time deciding how to rate this book. I decided I would rate this book on the more accurate title that I mentioned in (i) above. Some people might disagree with me on doing this but I feel the information presented in this book is important to know with respect to creativity.

In conclusion, despite some problems, I feel that this book does an adequate job in explaining extraordinary creativity.

(2005; preface; 6 chapters; main narrative 180 pages; bibliography; index)

34 von 40 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Other reviewers seem to miss the point 5. Januar 2006
Von Derek J - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
In writing this book Dr. Andreasen had to consider her audience. This
book was written for a general audience, not the academic or medical community.
Therefore it must appeal to that end both in language and length of text.
I think that Dr. Andreasen is successful in her anecdotal approach to
writing this book. It keeps things interesting for those of us who might
have trouble sifting through the thousands and thousands of articles
published about creativity in medical or psychology journals. If you are looking for a summary of everything that has been written on the topic, you are looking for another book....and very likely one that would not be of much interest to a general audience.
Why anyone would expect a book that is obviously written for most
moderately educated people to be so conclusive, especially at this stage
in neuroscience, is beyond me. If one were to try to cover all aspects of
how people are creative, it would likely be longer than all of wikipedia.
I am an artist. For this book, I used a method usually reserved for viewing art, and
that is, assume everything is intentional. If the painter gives Mary a
long neck, it's not that he or she doesn't know how to paint a neck. It is because the painter is trying to emphasize something about the neck. Being a PhD in
English, I would gather that Dr. Andreasen knows a thing or two about
writing well. Being an accomplished scientist in addition, she also has an amazing capacity to make difficult topics easy to understand. Perhaps this skill-one that is quite rare in highly credentialed scholars like Dr. Andreasen-is one reason that several reviewers have perceived the book to be "too simple."
In this book Dr. Andreasen has selectively chosen some aspects of creativity the aspects of creativity that she finds most interesting. The most challenging aspect is the neuroscience of creativity. How does the brain actually work when it develops original ideas? The book is a tour de force in this respect. Few others could have written about this topic in such a knowledgeable but interesting and approachable way.
17 von 20 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Misleading title, disappointing book 16. Juni 2006
Von vbenedict - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I was intrigued by the title of this book and the background of the author. The book turned out to be a disappointment. There were only a few insights from neuroscience, and the synthesis based on the biography of geniuses was superficial, leading to somewhat obvious conclusions. While an integrative approach to writing on such a complex topic must be appreciated, the balance of the content could have been more in favor of scientific findings. Also, a slightly irritating aspect is the author's desire to communicate her likeness to the creative people whom she describes. The book is easy to read, though, the content could have been presented in an article of a few pages.
10 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Infoteresting 19. Juni 2006
Von Himri - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
'The Creating Brain' book is about creativity, the person and the process involved. Nancy also talks about how creative people have a certain personality which could affect their mental behavior.

The book starts with how most creative ideas sprang into te select minds while in 'bed, bath or bus'- Kekule,Archimedes,Poincare int he order fo their situation.

The chapter on five creative persons gives a first account of the creative person at their act.

A very interesting chapter of the book is the one in which Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo are studied to see how nature (Genes. The concept of 'Hereditary Genius' and Francis Galton's contribution of Scatter Plots and Unique finger prints theory , his misused theory of eugenics was interesting to know) and nurture(the need for a mentor) are both part in bringing about a persons creativity to light.

The last chapter deals with how to build a better brain with exercises like learning something new everyday since its associating different domains which has been seen as a bed for creativity, active reading with a list of books for children of different ages.
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