Sunday, April 13, 2008

Pick's Disease and Creativity

A Disease That Allowed Torrents of Creativity (Blakeslee) - New York Times

It seems the meme of creativity is rising, as might be expected if we are transitioning into the Imagination Age. As we might also expect, the explanation for creativity continues to be grounded in brain-based research. The above NY Times article ties in well with previous posts on creativity and the right hemisphere, including the post on recent identification of the "Aha!" region of the brain (associative cortex in the right hemisphere's parietal lobe). This article points out an aspect of brain function that has always fascinated me: the idea that the frontal lobe acts to inhibit the activity of other regions of the brain. As we continue to build cognitive models for educational purposes, it's important to keep in mind that relationships between resources shouldn't always be "positive", such that the activity level of one resource always increases the probability of activity of another resource. Cognitive models should be robust enough to include the possibility that resources might decrease the probability of activity of other resources. As such, we can model increases in certain capacities as other aspects of cognition are reduced in activity - whether through endogenous disease such as that mentioned in the article above, or through educational experiences that train students to minimize certain thought patterns in order to maximize others.

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