Different perspectives: Creativity, awareness, and the third person point of view

For most people, the metaphor of the meandering creative brain resonates deeply because in many ways our conceptual sense of what it means to be creative emerges from our physical experience of meandering, of wandering, of exploring new places and rediscovering familiar ones.

Krista Tippett (On Being) | A heightened potential for creativity

[Rex Jung is] working on the emerging frontier of the study of creativity — and how it is different from, as well as related to, intelligence. He and his colleagues have notably helped identify a phenomenon they’ve called “transient hypofrontality.” That’s a daunting name for an experience many of us will recognize. Simply put, Rex Jung says that intelligence works like a “superhighway,” with massive numbers of connections being made between the different parts of the brain with speed and directness. When we become more creative, our powerful, organizing frontal lobes downregulate a bit. The creative brain is a “meandering” brain. The superhighways give way to “side roads and dirt roads,” making possible the new and unexpected connections we associate with artistry, discovery, and humor.

Krista Tippett (On Being) | A heightened potential for creativity even while our brains slow down


Rex Jung • Krista Tippett (On Being) | Creativity and the everyday brain

But what happens if we reframe our understanding of the brain networks that support intelligence and creativity in terms of levels of awareness? We can adapt the “superhighway” and “side roads and dirt roads” analogy to help illustrate what this kind of shift means. From an emergent systems perspective, the relationship between the executive network (intelligence) and the default network (creativity) would be better understood as a difference in point of view. Zoomed in through executive awareness, our focus is limited to direct, immediate, perceptually “large” patterns. Zoomed out through default awareness, our focus can include indirect, peripheral, perceptually “small” patterns. It’s not so much that we leave the superhighways, but that we shift awareness from the path directly in front of us to become aware of the paths all around us in the periphery