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The Creative Brain: The Science of Genius

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  502 ratings  ·  76 reviews
Shakespeare's tragic plays, Mozart's sublime symphonies, Einstein's revolutionary theories--how did these geniuses create such magnificent and highly original works? Were their brains different from those of ordinary people? Using modern neuroscience together with first-person accounts of creative breakthroughs from artists and scientists such as Mozart, Henri Poincar�, an ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 1st 2006 by Plume Books (first published 2005)
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Simon Vindum It may or may not be what you have in mind but she mentions a list of characteristics 26 minutes into chapter 2 of the audio book. The listed characte…moreIt may or may not be what you have in mind but she mentions a list of characteristics 26 minutes into chapter 2 of the audio book. The listed characteristics are: openness to experience, adventuresomeness, rebelliousness, individualism, sensitivity, playfulness, persistence, curiosity and simplicity. A few minutes later she talks about openness to shades of grey and ambiguity.(less)
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Ade Bailey
Feb 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
This book reads deceptively simply. She is a genius writer herself, and there is more to the words than the voices of a neuroscientist, psychiatrist, PhD literature scholar and lover of those very words she weaves into a transparent shimmer that is, like the brain, wider thean the sky and not even in the same universe as the sum of its earth bound parts.
Aug 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
Average. Just general facts about giftedness, creativity, with examples of famous 'highly creative' people. I was expecting more medical details, such as: are there medical proofs for a different functioning of creative/gifted individuals? But the book is more kind of literature-style than medical-scientific one… ...more
Apr 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
One of the oddities of the exploding field of brain science is that very few researchers are exploring the one area that arguably makes us most human -- our creativity. Part of the reason is that it's devlishly difficult to measure and to assess.

Nancy Andreasen, a University of Iowa professor and a pioneer of brain research, is one of the small group that continues to explore the creative urge.

This book is a good overview of what she knows about creativity both from self-reports by highly creat
Tim Gannon
Jan 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology-mind
Written by a psychiatrist who has also spent much time doing research - explores the subject of creativity both historically and current - goes over the relationship between creativity and mood disorders/schizophrenia - looks at nature vs nurture - even how to define creativity - goes over neuroimaging data on the subject - even the effect of lithium on creativity - discusses personality and cognitive characteristics of creative geniuses - neuroplasticity is touched on - it was quite interesting ...more
Mar 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
The topic was very intriguing unfortunately, this was not a well presented book. The writing was not engaging and the book was sprinkled with these annoying parenthetical side comments like blah blah blah (but Michelangelo was also born from a middle class family too!) blah blah blah brain etc.

I guess I was just not amused by these comments and some of the suggestions she makes in the end are such no brainers (ha!) that it's almost pathetic that people have to be told. My guess is that people t
Sep 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoughtful examination of what we know and what we might want to know about creativity, including how to foster it in ourselves and our children.
While an interesting subject in theory, the book suffered on several levels. For a book subtitled "The Science of Genius", I genuinely expected more scientific discussion of research, and less rampant speculation. The portion on the environment that produces a genius was particularly outstanding in this regard -- while the factors that Andreasen lists are certainly intuitive, her basis for them is merely anecdotal. At times, it read more like a historical account, which I would have enjoyed (the ...more
May 04, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: neuroscience
I found this book to be thin on substance and a bit fragmented in its focus - or at least the focus that the title implies. It's a meandering discourse of various historical attempts to understand creativity. The author's own research seems thin, too, when compared with the rigorous studies conducted by other neuroscientists. ...more
Michael Trzcinski
My view is that mood disorders have enhanced my creativity. I have read a lot on this subject and found this book to be the best information I have come across. I felt it confirmed and added to my personal views on the subject and was a good contribution to the field of knowledge. I wrote a memoir, " Oh, By the Way, I have a Mental Illness", and included a chapter on creativity. I have loaned my copy of her book to my friends who have a mood disorders. ...more
Nov 27, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
interesting, illuminating and inspiring

Great book about extraordinary and ordinary creativity. It illustrates how human creativity have been developed and excelled in history. Specially interesting if the review of Leonardo da Vince’s and Michelangelo’s life and art works. This book also explored the neural basis of creativity and how we can nurture our creativity using practical suggestions.
Onur Çukur
If you want to know what neuroscience is and what it can do this book is the basic guide for you.
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a very interesting read
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting enough to enjoy and finish. Not necessarily a must read.
Liz Lou
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Oooofff. Don’t think the title topic was answered and all examples of genius and creativity were white men.
May 02, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After finishing Unreasonable succes by Richard Koch. This is the recommended book I immediately started reading. First chapters are intro. The last chapter tells how to become more creative.
Sep 20, 2022 rated it liked it
Some really good insight about the science behind creativity. However, often quite repetitive and contained a lot of "duh" information. Overall a good read, but would only read once. ...more
Jul 21, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2022
The book go through (wht is the creative brain, nature vs nurture, wht the traits of highly creative people in various fields, why creative people suffer from mental illnesses, whts make piece of work an creative genuine work
Benjamin Conlon
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius" written by Nancy C. Andreasen medical doctor and physician is a detailed novel that covers widely the basis of the human brain and its development through childhood, adolescence,and adulthood.The book not only mentions the primitive functions of the brain but the individual creative qualities that each brain consists of and what sets of breakthroughs constantly rec-occur in various fields such as the arts and science primarily. This novel assiduou ...more
Benjamin Conlon
Aug 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
"The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius" written by Nancy C. Andreasen medical doctor and physician is a detailed novel that covers widely the basis of the human brain and its development through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. The book not only mentions the primitive functions of the brain but the individual creative qualities that each brain consists of along with what sets of breakthroughs constantly reoccur in various fields such as the arts and science primarily. This novel a ...more
May 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: creativity
Creativity is the single most desired trait among American workers today. Just being able to perform the tasks of a job no longer cuts the mustard anymore, for most of our work is no longer in manufacturing widgets to tolerance, but in satisfying customer's expectations and meeting unmet needs.

Creativity is no longer the provenance of the arts alone, but has become part of science, education, technology, business and many other fields. Unfortunately, our schools aren't training for "creativity,
Jul 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is a hard book to read, but very interesting.

Nancy Andreasen attempted a scientific comparison of Iowa Writers Workshop members with matched pairs of people similar in Socioeconomic and demographic traits, but in more mundane types of work (law, medicine, engineering).

She says her study suggests that artistically creative people tend to have more mood disorders (not schizophrenia) compared to the control group--also alchoholism, which could be self-medication for mood problems or relief f
Sanath Kumar
Jan 10, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Though the book isn't as expected loaded with some practical step in details, but with a majority part exploring the relationship between creative prodigy with psychosis, I still find the book captivating to read, as the author as an interdisciplinary scholar at the two ends of polarity of sciences (that's literature from theoretical science and neuroscience from natural science ), has fueled the arguments with evidences in an more objective and scientific way. Plus her light touch on words make ...more
Başak Akbaş
Sep 11, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I think the author of the book is very confused. While you are reading about brain plasticity on one page, you came across recommendations for children's book on another page. While you think you will go into the details about brain's creativity, you suddenly find yourself reading details about Michelangelo's life. Overall, book created the impression of a collection of quotations. Moreover, the author constantly talks about herself and what she accomplished. Hence, I couldn't help but wonder: W ...more
Aug 11, 2009 rated it liked it
This was recommended to me by Katherine. A researcher who has been studying how creativity manifests itself in the brain wrote the book. It is not thick with scientific lingo but still interesting enough. I have not been reading enough nonfiction but this book has made me determine to do so. Now that I do not have cable I no longer stumble on interesting documentaries while channel surfing. So now I need to go back to non fiction reading for those fun odd facts.
D Books
Sep 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
I would have given this book a 2.5 star rating if it were possible. There was nothing new in this book that I hadn't known about for the past couple of decades. Finding ways to think outside the box, your environment, social/peer interaction, etc. All inspire creativity. The author is somewhat repetitive and slow to the point. I recommend just reading the last chapter and you'll get the whole point of the book. ...more
Oct 17, 2014 added it
An interesting piece of talent-history that is easy to read. It's a survey of artists, potentially with mental illnesses, looking into environmental, hereditary etc. causation. Still, it wasn't exactly what I hoped it to be. To those curious, the information here is available already, however scattered. I guess I was expecting more of the MD then the PhD, an emphasis on neuroscience, psychiatry and the medical layout. ...more
Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Overall it's quite an interesting book, giving a good picture of where science currently is on understanding genius and how it develops. The personal experiences of the author make it a good read with many stories, and she also gives a different perspective with her unusual background mixing up literature and medicine. At times the book gets maybe a bit too easy or obvious, but I guess writing in this area is always a tricky business since one can otherwise get too technical/medical. ...more
Jul 29, 2009 rated it liked it
An interesting look at the neuroscience behind creativity. Formerly a professor of English, Andreason is good at making a sometimes-heavy topic easy to read.

Although at times the book seemed a little Euro-centric, it was still a valuable resource for understanding the mysterious process of creativity. And the last section's tips for improving the mind are definitely worth reading!
I skimmed this book. I liked the parts that I read alright- didn't feel the need to read the whole book.

I thought it was interesting that there has been a link found between creativity and mental illness, but I'd inferred that from a book I read about boundaries. I wanted to send the author the Boundaries book.
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