the neurobiological preconditions for the development of curiosity and creativity

an interesting article by Gerald Hüther


Creative people often do not even know exactly how they become inspired and arrive at their brilliant ideas. Sometimes it seems that their ideas or achievements spring from “gut feelings“ or from “deep down in the heart.“ Strangely enough, we are most creative under conditions, which according to conventional wisdom are not appropriate for high perfor- mance brain activity: in a dreamy or half asleep state.

It seems that creativity is an activity that can not be attained by a special exertion of the thinking organ, in order to solve a certain problem. The really creative ideas actually come at the very moment when we are able to use our brains without pressure and without a targeted exertion. In a certain way, we resemble the best songbirds, whose singing achievements Konrad Lorenz so fittingly de- scribed: “We know very well that the bird song involves a species preserving performance in the establishment of territorial boundaries, the attraction of females, the intimidation of intruders and so on. However, we also know that the bird song reaches its pitch of perfec- tion, and its richest differentiation, when these functions no longer play a role. A bluethroat, or a blackbird sings the most artistic, and for our sensibilities, most beautiful and objectively most complexely constructed songs in those moments of slight arousal when they poeti- cally 'pour forth'. When the song serves a purpose, when the bird sings in opposition or struts before a female, then the finer nuances are lost, and all one hears is a monotone repetition of the loudest stanzas.

It almost always amazed me, that the bird achieved its artistic peak performance in song in exactly the same biological state and mood as the hu- man being, namely in a kind of psychic equilibrium, with a little distance, as it were, from the seriousness of life, in a purely playful way.“1 If in that sense we now ask ourselves, when were our brains working at their best “in a kind of psychic equilibrium, with a little distance, as it were, from the seriousness of life, and in a purely playful way“,then for most people in our efficiency acclimated world of ideas this condition of highest creativity will be the most memorable, where we had least suspected it: in early childhood. It is worth the time to pursue the question of why this is so and how it happens, that so many people lose this capacity sooner or later in the course of their lives.

how the potential for learning and creating is shaped

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