Creative Consciousness

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Psych Blog #2 by Cody Nelson

Professor Gail Peterson's lecture on biological psychology was, without a doubt, my favorite lecture of the semester thus far. The first lecture involved consciousness; how it may be a result of brain areas and how we are aware of it. As a musician and someone fascinated by all types of art and creative thinking, I particularly wanted to see how the topic of consciousness may pertain to creativity. Upon further research, I found almost exactly what I was looking for.

Ed Sarath is the founder and director of the University of Michigan's Program of Creativity and Consciousness Studies, as well as a respected jazz and improvisational musician. (watch this video for an introduction: His study of consciousness focuses more on meditation, rather than the biological basis we focus on in class. In the video above, he shows examples of how his students meditate before practicing music. They claim that the meditation directly correlates to better performance, although there is no evidence to support that meditation is the cause (a direct example of correlation not equalling causation). It would be interesting, however, to monitor brain activity during meditation and musical practice to see if the meditation really does stimulate the brain's creative centers, compared to a control group that did not meditate prior to practicing.

My theory on the study is that there is no legitimate biological reason for why meditation helped boost performance, other than that it increased focus. Obviously, I do not have the means to test this, but my logic tells me that the idea that meditation improved creativity is largely a psychological construct. The meditation may have made the musicians more focused, giving them the sensation they are performing better, but their performance was really based on their prior knowledge of music theory and their experience playing.

Although I am not sure about meditation affecting the creative part of consciousness, I still have questions about thought and consciousness. The main one is what separates creative people from those less inspired. I would like to know what in the brains of Handel or Kanye West from the average person. It is a question that may never be truthfully answered, but is one to wonder about.

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This page contains a single entry by nels7746 published on October 6, 2011 1:31 PM.

Functions of the brain. was the previous entry in this blog.

Sleeping Beauty--Not so happily ever after. is the next entry in this blog.

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