Hormones and Aging Hope Springs Eternal

Serum levels of total and bioavailable testosterone gradually decrease with age in men and are associated with changes in cognition. Cher-rier and coinvestigators (2001) examined the relationship between exogenous testosterone administration and cognitive abilities in a population of healthy older men. The investigators raised the circulating total testosterone in the treatment group an average of 130 from baseline at week 3 and 116 at week 6. Because of aromatization of testosterone, estradiol...

Risk Taking and Substance Abuse

If the creative act brings satisfaction and fulfillment, why do creative people often have affective disorders such as depression In addition to having a high prevalence of affective disorders, creative people, especially writers, composer-musicians, and fine artists, have a very high rate of substance abuse, such as alcoholism (Post, 1994, 1996). As I mentioned in the chapter on neurotransmitters (chapter 8), although creative people often go through many trials and tribulations to accomplish...

Motivation and Persistence

To be successful, creative people need to have perseverance and persistence. According to Beals (1996), Thomas Edison said that being a creative genius required ninety nine percent perspiration and one percent inspiration. The biographies of almost all creative people reveal that, independent of the domain in which they create, they persevere and persist. Goal-oriented behavior or volition permeates almost all aspects of creativity, and the major organ of volition appears to be the frontal...

Divergent Thinking

Psychologists divide thinking into two forms convergent and divergent. The type of thinking performed by most problem solvers is convergent. In medical school we primarily teach our students and residents convergent thinking. For example, medical students are taught that if they see a person who has a fever, he or she may have an infection or heat stroke. In addition to the fever, if the patient is unconscious, the physician might still have trouble distinguishing between these two diagnostic...

Creativity and Left Hand Preference

Creativity is heavily dependent on novelty, and in the chapter on intelligence (chapter 2) I wrote about the importance of divergent thinking in creativity. I also discuss divergent thinking in the chapter on the frontal lobes (chapter 9). Coren (1995) studied the relationship between handedness and divergent thinking and found that left-handed people are better at divergent thinking than are right-handed people. The reason for this left handed superiority for divergent thinking is not known....

Right Hemisphere Deterioration

In chapter 3 I described the role of the right hemisphere in creativity. In summary, the right hemisphere appears to be more important in global than local processing, and global processing is often important in finding the thread that unites. I also mentioned how the right hemisphere is important in visual-spatial functions and how many extremely creative people used visual-spatial strategies to help find creative solutions. Thus, another hypothesis as to why creativity decreases with aging...

Dorsal Versus Ventral Systems

There is another possible explanation of the gender differences in spatial abilities and forms of creativity. Collaer and Nelson (2002) found that although men were superior in the Judgement of Line Orientation Test, if they altered the response array such that the base angles were not aligned with the bottom edge of the paper, the men's advantage was no longer present. The authors interpreted this finding as suggesting that men used a more global approach and did not solely focus on the lines...

Laterality and Modularity

One of the reasons why men's and women's creative endeavors might differ is that the modular organization of their brains might differ. Several investigators have provided evidence that, when compared to men, women are more likely to have bilateral hemisphere mediation of language (Gur et al., 2000 McGlone, 1977 Shaywitz et al., 1995). In addition, Gur et al. (2000) demonstrated that it was primarily men who showed right-hemisphere activation with spatial tasks. Other investigators were,...

Sex Hormones

Although the biological basis of sex differences in the brain's structure and function has not been entirely elucidated, there are at least two reasons that the brains of men and women might be different, size and laterality of cognitive processes. These two reasons, however, are not entirely independent. As I mentioned earlier, men's brains are larger than women's brains and there are more neurons. Although these differences are at least in part developmental, it is unknown whether these...

Intelligence

There are many definitions of intelligence. Some psychologists, who do not like the construct, jokingly define intelligence as the score one obtains on a test of intelligence (IQ test). Others define intelligence as the ability to do well in school. But to most psychologists, and as defined in Webster's Dictionary (Soukhanov & Ellis, 1988), intelligence is the measure of a person's ability to acquire and apply knowledge. Sternberg and O'Hara (1999) suggested several possible relationships...

The Frontal Lobes and Aging

Injury to the frontal lobes or interruptions of subcortical connections with the frontal lobe impair the functions of the frontal lobes, and some of these deficits of frontal lobe function are called executive deficits. Several studies suggest that frontal lobe dysfunction is often associated with aging. For example, Mittenberg, Seidenberg, O'Leary, and DiGiulio (1989) compared older and younger individuals on tests that assessed frontal, parietal, and temporal lobe functions. These...

Developmental Learning Disability

About three decades ago, I was listening to Norman Geschwind speak about dyslexia to members of the Orton (dyslexia) Society. Norman liked to say things that would shock his audience, and during his talk he said, Dyslexia is a social disease. At that time when someone spoke about social diseases, they were usually speaking about sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea and syphilis. There were many dyslexic people and parents of dyslexic children in the audience who appeared to be angry...

Subconscious Incubation

Many creative people have related that after discovering an unresolved problem, they are unable to immediately to solve this problem. After multiple attempts, they might become frustrated, give up trying to solve the problem, and then move on to other problems. Sometimes, after a few days, weeks, or months, suddenly the solution of this problem might come to them. As I mentioned, this experience has been termed illumination, or the aha experience, by Wallas (1926). The ability to suddenly...

Modularity and Connectivity

To understand how brains might work when people are performing creative acts, we have to understand the modular organization of the brain, and the modular organization of the brain is at least in part dependent on its anatomy. The cerebral cortex is divided into a left and right hemisphere, and these two hemispheres are connected by a structure called the corpus callosum. The corpus callosum allows information to be transferred from one hemisphere to the other see Figure 1.1 . Each hemisphere...