Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The brain, age & creativity

I’m citing this article from today's NY Times, Older Brain Really May Be a Wiser Brain because I like the image, above, by Yarek Waszul, and also it confirms, as I always suspected, that the reason we can’t immediately bring a fact or name to mind as we grow older, is because there’s just so much in there. This is because, the article says, with age we develop a gradual widening of attention, an ability to take in more of the information available to us, and therefore may be distracted by seemingly extraneous points a younger person might overlook.

"Such tendencies can yield big advantages in the real world, where it's not always clear what information is important, or will become important."
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“It may be that distractibility is not a bad thing,” said Shelley H. Carson, a psychology researcher at Harvard, whose work was cited in the book (Progress in Brain Research), “It may increase the amount of information available to the conscious mind.”
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The article also suggests that creative people exhibit this wide attention span throughout their lives, and that a “reduced ability to filter and set priorities…could contribute to original thinking.”

This explains why, in seventh grade, I was never able to get over Mrs. Kluver’s coiled, movie queen hair and bulbous high-healed shoes to actually concentrate on what she was saying. Obviously I knew what was important even then.

4 comments:

Spatula said...

At last! An official reason for why I'm surfing art blogs instead of doing my (day) job.

CAP said...

Plato didn't hit his stride til he was nearly 60.

He spent a long time learning.

Virginia said...

Ditto to Spatula. I spent at least some portion of my afternoon telling everyone I know that I finally had proof there was good stuff hidden under these creases.

Martha Miller said...

and i thought it was because i am an ENFP - always flitting from one interest to the next!
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