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The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius [Hardcover]

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Item description for The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius by Nancy C. Andreasen...

Michelangelo was raised in a rustic village by a family of modest means. Shakespeare's father was a middle-class businessman. Abraham Lincoln came from a family of itinerant farmers. Yet all these men broke free from their limited circumstances and achieved brilliant careers as creative artists and leaders. How such extraordinary creativity develops in the human brain is the subject of renowned psychiatrist Nancy Andreasen's The Creating Brain.
Andreasen explains here how the brain produces creative breakthroughs in art, literature, and science, revealing that creativity is not the same thing as intelligence. She scrutinizes the complex factors involved in the development of creativity, including the role of patrons and mentors, "non-standard" educations, and the possession of an "omnivorous" vision. A fascinating interview with acclaimed playwright Neil Simon sheds further light on the creative process.The relationship between genius and insanity also plays an important role in Andreasen's examination. Drawing on her studies of writers in the Iowa Writers' Workshop and other scientific evidence, Andreasen asserts that while creativity may sometimes be linked to mental disorders and may be partially due to familial/genetic factors, neither is inevitable nor needed for creativity to flourish.
Scientist's increasing understanding of the brain's plasticity suggests even more possibilities for nurturing the creative drive, and Andreasen looks ahead to exciting implications for child-rearing and education. The Creating Brain presents an inspiring vision for a future where everyone—not just artists or writers—can fulfill their creative capacity.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   197
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6.5" Height: 9.5"
Weight:   1.1 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 30, 2005
Publisher   Dana Press
ISBN  1932594078  
ISBN13  9781932594072  

Availability  0 units.

More About Nancy C. Andreasen

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Nancy Andreasen is the Andrew H. Woods Chair of Psychiatry and director of the Mental Health Clinical Research Center at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. She served for twelve years as the editor in chief of the American Journal of Psychiatry and has authored or edited fifteen books, including The Broken Brain and Brave New Brain. She was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Clinton.

Nancy C. Andreasen currently resides in the state of Iowa. Nancy C. Andreasen has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics University of Iowa College of.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Psychology & Counseling > General
2Books > Subjects > Medicine > Internal Medicine > Neurology > Neuroscience
3Books > Subjects > Medicine > Specialties > Psychiatry > Psychiatry
4Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Medical > Medicine > Internal Medicine > Neurology > Neuroscience
5Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Medical > Medicine > Internal Medicine > Psychiatry > General
6Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Professional Science > Behavioral Sciences > Cognitive Psychology
7Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Professional Science > Behavioral Sciences > Cognitive Science
8Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Professional Science > Biological Sciences > Biology > Biology
9Books > Subjects > Science > Behavioral Sciences > Cognitive Psychology
10Books > Subjects > Science > Behavioral Sciences > General
11Books > Subjects > Science > Biological Sciences > Biology > General
12Books > Subjects > Science > General
13Books > Subjects > Science > History & Philosophy > Science

Reviews - What do customers think about The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius?

Introductory look at creativity and mental states is only, disappointingly, finger food  Oct 10, 2007
Andreasen has multiple chops to bring to this modern study. Before she got her M.D. as a psychiatrist, she had a Ph.D. in Renaissance literature and taught at the University of Iowa, renowned for the Iowa Writers' Workshop. That allows her to combine anecdotal and empirical study on this issue.

Unfortunately, her chops rarely get run to their full. More on that later.

Andreasen's centerpiece, but by no means the only part of the book, is what, if any, actual link there is between creativity, especially the high state of creativity she labels "extraordinary creativity," and mental issues such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism and drug abuse.

Reviewing a variety of statistics and studies, as well as her own and other researchers' work in fMRI and other brain research tools, she is able to point out correlations, especially with depressive/affective disorders and chemical dependency. She, with her background, primarily studies writers, but also looks at other artistic types.

Not such much here, but elsewhere in the book, she also expands her gaze to the most creative types in the natural sciences, i.e., the Newtons and Einsteins of the world.

Andreasen also does a decent job of tackling nature vs. nurture, on a surface level

That said, while this is a very good book, it falls just short of five-star status for a couple of related reasons.

Basically, what they all boil down to is a psychiatrist who also has a Ph.D. in Renaissance lit has given us thin gruel versus what we really could have had.

The first is the length -- less than 200 pages, not counting footnotes.

The second is a relatively small number of studies cited. More research information, and meta-analysis, could be provided without overwhelming lay readers. And, while new ground is being broken all the time, such meta-analysis might point to where we could -- or should -- be heading. Beyond the studies on creative genius' links to mental illness, more from the rapidly growing field of genomic studies and the years of twin studies, again with some meta-analysis, are missing.

I think about 250-300 pages would have been nice, if not more.
Infoteresting  Jun 19, 2006
'The Creating Brain' book is about creativity, the person and the process involved. Nancy also talks about how creative people have a certain personality which could affect their mental behavior.

The book starts with how most creative ideas sprang into te select minds while in 'bed, bath or bus'- Kekule,Archimedes,Poincare int he order fo their situation.

The chapter on five creative persons gives a first account of the creative person at their act.

A very interesting chapter of the book is the one in which Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo are studied to see how nature (Genes. The concept of 'Hereditary Genius' and Francis Galton's contribution of Scatter Plots and Unique finger prints theory , his misused theory of eugenics was interesting to know) and nurture(the need for a mentor) are both part in bringing about a persons creativity to light.

The last chapter deals with how to build a better brain with exercises like learning something new everyday since its associating different domains which has been seen as a bed for creativity, active reading with a list of books for children of different ages.

Misleading title, disappointing book  Jun 16, 2006
I was intrigued by the title of this book and the background of the author. The book turned out to be a disappointment. There were only a few insights from neuroscience, and the synthesis based on the biography of geniuses was superficial, leading to somewhat obvious conclusions. While an integrative approach to writing on such a complex topic must be appreciated, the balance of the content could have been more in favor of scientific findings. Also, a slightly irritating aspect is the author's desire to communicate her likeness to the creative people whom she describes. The book is easy to read, though, the content could have been presented in an article of a few pages.
A Quick Folksie Intro - Hope for Bibliography?  Mar 21, 2006
Creating Brain reads like a chat accross the kitchen table with an occasional very brief trip to the lecture podium.

For a natural scientist, Andreasen presents lots of conclusions, such as recommendations on TV exposure to children, with little data or reason other than her personal opinion for support. While her thoughts aren't unreasonable, they are also not supported by data. This weakness taints the other statements (both biographical and scientific)which one hopes are better supported by the research cited. The distance of the lecture podium requires better connection between evidence and conclusion. I had hoped for more depth on current research and imaging.

Still, the accross-the-kitchen-table tone does match the interesting stories, personal anecdotes, and opinions. Also, the complexity of nature and nurture (clearly nature vs nurture is no longer a fruitful concept)comes through well.

AFTER THE TEXT a tempting bibliography including material said to be freely available from Andreasen's institution may lead to works of more rigor that do not sacrifice good explanation of methods.

A Tour of Creativity and the Mind  Mar 10, 2006

QUESTION: What do Neil Simon (playwright), Mozart (music composer), and Friedrich Kekule (organic chemist) have in common?
ANSWER: Each was considered to be a creative genius.

This slim book by Dr. Nancy Andreasen attempts to explain how the above people and those like them create great works of art and come up with original ideas in the sciences. Does their creative genius reside in their neuroanatomy?

Andreasen explains more about her book:

"[My] book is primarily about extraordinary creativity. I wanted to write about how extremely gifted people have created things that have made our lives, our society, and our civilization richer and more beautiful."

Each of this book's six chapters is divided into subsections. Below I will give the title of the chapter (in upper case) and then give the titles of each subsection so as to give an overview of the entire book:


The evolution of concepts of creativity; Creativity vs intelligence; Creativity and society: who decides?; What is creativity.


The scientific study of creativity; The creative person; The creative process; The case-study method and introspective descriptions of the creative process; Five introspective accounts (written by five people who represent extraordinary creativity).


Creativity and the brain; How does the brain think?; A primer of brain anatomy; The complexity of brain networks; The human brain as a self-organizing system; What is human thought?; Unconscious thought; The neural basis of extraordinary creativity.


Early explorations of genius and insanity: the anecdotal era; Improving diagnostic precision: the quantitative era; Is there a connection between creativity and schizophrenia?; Mental illness, creativity, and the brain; What are the effects of treating mental illness in creative people?


The role of nurture; Renaissance Florence as a Lab for the case study of nature and nurture (note that Andreasen's PhD is in Renaissance Literature); What kind of environment nurtures Creativity?; The role of nature: innate gifts and hereditary factors; Nature vs nurture: What creates the creative brain?


What is brain plasticity?; Plasticity and the creative brain; Ordinary creativity and extraordinary creativity; (Creative enhancing) mental exercises for adults; Tips for teaching tots; The creating brain: Quo Vadis.

If you peruse the above chapter subsections, you will find that the actual amount of neuroscience presented in this book is minimal. This is actually justified since the amount of research in this area is slim. What Andreasen does is actually concentrate on the mind rather than to analyze only the brain in order to understand creativity.

This book contains almost 35 black and white photos and illustrations, most of which I found interesting.

Don't worry! This book is easy to read. You don't have to have a PhD to understand it.

There are a few problems with this book. I will state three that I consider major ones:

(i) This book's title is "The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of [Creative] Genius." As explained above, this book deals more with the mind than with the brain. As well, the neuroscience in this book is minimal. (Some people may get angry at this expecting the entire book to be about the brain and neuroscience. Personally, I was not angry but surprised.) I think a more accurate title would have been: "The Creating Mind: With Some Neuroscience Explaining Creative Genius."

(ii) The preface made me wince. Andreasen begins it with "When I was a kindergartener, I was IQ-tested and declared a genius." She then goes on and briefly describes her life with this label. Why?

(iii) The author attempts to imply that Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein suffered from mental illness. Maybe she's justified in saying this since she has a degree in psychiatry. However, one of my degrees is in psychology and I would say that she is reading too much into Newton's and Einstein's idiosyncrasies.

Finally, I had a difficult time deciding how to rate this book. I decided I would rate this book on the more accurate title that I mentioned in (i) above. Some people might disagree with me on doing this but I feel the information presented in this book is important to know with respect to creativity.

In conclusion, despite some problems, I feel that this book does an adequate job in explaining extraordinary creativity.

(2005; preface; 6 chapters; main narrative 180 pages; bibliography; index)


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