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Creative excellence, censorship and frontal lobes

Posted Dec 22 2009 10:33pm

Does it enhance creativity to be concerned with what other people think?

In his post Creativity and richness of brain concepts, professor of neuroesthetics Semir Zeki argues that “one of the dangers that limits creativity is self-censorship.

“Any creative person, whether in art or literature or music or theatre, who censors what they want to say or depict because of social disapproval or prohibition, or because of a self-imposed, even unconscious, censorship, will find it difficult to produce a work of art of the highest quality.”

In an earlier post Artistic creativity and the brain, he speculates that self-censorship may involve “activity in the frontal lobes of the brain.”

He notes research on brain activity of professional jazz pianists while they were improvising showing “there was extensive de-activation in the frontal cortex as well as in those areas of the brain that are thought to regulate emotions.”

Zeki concludes, “Any artistic achievement that is tailored to conform to social demands rather than to the real, uninhibited, feelings of its creator, is destined not to reach the heights of achievement, or even fail. It is only when an artist is disinhibited that he or she can reach the heights of artistic achievement.”

That sounds to me like a huge philosophical leap. Many forms of art – such as movies – involve “conformity to social demands” and yet achieve creative power.

Creative excellence may usually be a balance: using forms of expression that others can understand and relate to, while not stifling or self-censoring ideas that are “too out there” to be “acceptable.”

Semir Zeki is author of the book Splendors and Miseries of the Brain: Love, Creativity, and the Quest for Human Happiness.

Dilbert strip by Scott Adams.

developing creativity, creative potential, creative personality type, creative experience characteristics, psychology of creativity, creative mind

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