Tuesday, October 6, 2015

What Is Creativity? - 21

I'm still working through Dr. Davidson's book, Now You See It, (See "What is Creativity? - 19"), which has reminded me of mirror neurons.

This subset of neurons was first discovered in the brain during studies of eye-hand coordination. Specific neurons fire when a person picks up a piece of food and eats it. AND some neurons fire in exactly the same pattern when one person watches another pick up and eat a piece of food.

Mirror neurons are found in other areas of the brain as well. fMRIs of musicians listening to music record, not only neurological firings related to motor activity, but also those related to sound. The brain of a pianist listening to a Chopin etude will simulate in many ways her brain when she is actually playing the sonata.

An author's brain activity when she writes the scene in which a father dies may stimulate similar firings in the brains of her readers. In Empire Falls Richard Russo gave me such an exact picture of the town that I "saw" each store and house exactly where the director of the televised version of Russo's book "saw" them. Except for the junkyard—that was in the wrong place.

Mirror neurons have also been found in the somatosensory areas of the brain associated with empathy. An acquaintance recently told me that she and her husband had separated a few months ago. Why wasn't I surprised? She had never complained about him, I'd never seen them together and felt discord. I had no visual or verbal cues at all. And yet, during the three years I'd known her, I had sensed that she was no longer married.

I've always loved the word recreation, not as it's usually pronounced, with its usual meaning of what we do when we're not working. What I love is re-creation, the sense that when I'm seeing great art, reading a great book, or watching great actors, I am being re-created. But I'd not realized before that I'm being physically re-created, that neural pathways in my brain are being created or strengthened.

No comments:

Post a Comment