News and Commentary Archive

Explore recent scientific discoveries and news as well as CLBB events, commentary, and press.

Mission

The speed of technology in neuroscience as it impacts ethical and just decisions in the legal system needs to be understood by lawyers, judges, public policy makers, and the general public. The Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior is an academic and professional resource for the education, research, and understanding of neuroscience and the law. Read more

Creative Cognition and Brain Network Dynamics

By Roger E. Beaty, Mathias Benedek, Paul J. Silvia, and Daniel L. Schacter | Trends in Cognitive Science | November 6, 2015

Abstract:

Creative thinking is central to the arts, sciences, and everyday life. How does the brain produce creative thought? A series of recently published papers has begun to provide insight into this question, reporting a strikingly similar pattern of brain activity and connectivity across a range of creative tasks and domains, from divergent thinking to poetry composition to musical improvisation. This research suggests that creative thought involves dynamic interactions of large-scale brain systems, with the most compelling finding being that the default and executive control networks, which can show an antagonistic relation, tend to cooperate during creative cognition and artistic performance. These findings have implications for understanding how brain networks interact to support complex cognitive processes, particularly those involving goal-directed, self-generated thought.

Read the full paper here.

Creativity and Memory

By Kevin P. Madore, Donna Rose Addis, and Daniel L. Schacter | Psychological Science | July 23, 2015

Abstract:

People produce more episodic details when imagining future events and solving means-end problems after receiving an episodic-specificity induction—brief training in recollecting details of a recent event—than after receiving a control induction not focused on episodic retrieval. Here we show for the first time that an episodic-specificity induction also enhances divergent creative thinking. In Experiment 1, participants exhibited a selective boost on a divergent-thinking task (generating unusual uses of common objects) after a specificity induction compared with a control induction; by contrast, performance following the two inductions was similar on an object association task thought to involve little divergent thinking. In Experiment 2, we replicated the specificity-induction effect on divergent thinking using a different control induction, and also found that participants performed similarly on a convergent-thinking task following the two inductions. These experiments provide novel evidence that episodic memory is involved in divergent creative thinking.

Read the full article here.

WATCH – “The Creative Mind: A Conversation with Adam Gopnik”

Creative expression, whether in music, visual arts or great literature, may shed light on the most important and elusive neuroscience question of them all – how does the brain enable the mind? In turn, neuroscience may be able to probe the components of creative genius, characterizing what makes certain artistic works evocative, transfixing, or even transcendent.

150601_Gopnik_CLBB_finalOn Monday, June 1, the MGH Center for Law, Brain and Behavior hosted “The Creative Mind: A Conversation with Adam Gopnik” event at the Harvard Club of New York City, moderated by Jordan Smoller, MD, ScD. The evening began with a reception and artistic performance, followed by a conversation between The New Yorker writer and the psychiatric geneticist.

Adam Gopnik has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1986. During his tenure at the magazine, he has written fiction, humor, book reviews, profiles, and reported pieces from abroad. He was the magazine’s art critic from 1987-1995, and the Paris correspondent from 1995-2000. From 2000 to 2005, he wrote a journal about New York life. His books, ranging from essay collections about Paris and food to children’s novels, include “Paris to the Moon,” “The King in the Window,” “Through the Children’s Gate: A Home in New York,” “Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life,” “The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food,” and “Winter: Five Windows on the Season.” Gopnik has three National Magazine awards, for essays and for criticism, and also the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting. In March of 2013, Gopnik was awarded the medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. He lectures widely, and, in 2011, delivered the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Massey Lectures.

Jordan Smoller, MD, ScD is a CLBB faculty member and Director of the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit, Associate Chief for Research in Psychiatry, and Director of Psychiatric Genetics at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He is also Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health. Additionally, Smoller is the author of the popular science book, The Other Side of Normal: How Biology Is Providing the Clues to Unlock the Secrets of Normal and Abnormal Behavior.

This event was sponsored by founding CLBB board member Judi Sorenson Flom, Esq.

To watch video of the entire Gopnik event, or explore past events on mind, brain, and creativity, see CLBB’s Vimeo channel.