The Dana Foundation is “a private philanthropic organization that supports brain research” – the following is from an article on their site.
At the Learning and the Brain Conference in Washington D.C., Nancy C. Andreasen, M.D., Ph.D., discussed the importance of providing students with a “liberal education” that combines the study of the arts and the sciences.
She asked: How important are the arts for optimal development of the mind and brain? How important are the sciences? And how important is it to integrate both in our educational programs?
Nancy Andreasen writes:
The arbitrary division of domains of knowledge and the quest for specialization is a relatively recent phenomenon.
During the Renaissance, one of the great eras of exuberant creativity, people did not divide the world into art and science. Instead they saw them as a seamless continuum.
Michelangelo was a sculptor, architect, painter, engineer, poet and anatomist. Leonardo was an inventor, painter, engineer, sculptor and anatomist.
Great naturalists, such as Charles Darwin, made discoveries that we call “science” while trying to understand the beauty and order of the natural world.
As one great naturalist, Konrad Lorenz, has said,
“He who has seen the intimate beauty of nature must become either a poet or a naturalist and, if his eyes are good enough and his powers of observation sharp enough, he may well become both.”
To the extent that our current educational system fails to integrate art and science, it fails in an important aspect of nurturing creativity in young people.
What is the nature of the creative process?
Many introspective accounts from individuals as diverse as Mozart or Poincaré or Coleridge share a common theme.
Creative ideas, insights and solutions tend to occur rapidly and spontaneously, as sudden flashes of insight, although they may be preceded by an incubation phase.
They are most likely to arise while a person is daydreaming or relaxing or engaging in “free association” — a state called REST (Random Episodic Silent Thought) or the “default state” in imaging research studies.
During this state, regions of the association cortex are especially active, reflecting the fact that mental connections are being tossed around chaotically—until an original idea sometimes emerges.
This process reflects the highly complex nature of brain organization. The brain is able to spontaneously generate novel ideas and content because it can function as a self-organizing system (a concept from “chaos theory”), a system in which components spontaneously organize to produce something new in a nonlinear, dynamic and unpredictable way.
From article: Illuminating genius: insights from science and the arts, by Nancy C. Andreasen, the Dana Press Blog June 01, 2009.
Nancy C. Andreasen, M.D., Ph.D., “is Andrew H. Woods Chair of Psychiatry and Director of its Neuroimaging Research Center and the Mental Health Clinical Research Center at The University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. She is a prominent neuroscientist and psychiatrist. Throughout her career she has successfully integrated interests in the arts and sciences. Her Ph.D. is in English literature, with specialization in Renaissance literature.” [From bio at http://nancyandreasen.com]
She is author of the book The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius.
The top image is a detail from artist Wim Delvoye’s: Chapel series – features “stained glass” windows using recycled x-rays. Also used in my video in article: Interested In So Many Things: Creative and Multitalented.