The Null Device

Scientists in Sydney have developed a device which increases creativity through magnetic stimulation of the brain. My reactions: (a) I want one, then (b) if it ever makes it to market, it'll probably be banned worldwide; the effects of millions of people becoming unpredictable creatives could be too economically destabilising to allow.

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Posted by: np Fri Apr 19 13:57:23 2002

You can find more related Science and Technology news on our site, if you are interested.

Posted by: Jan Bhme http:// Fri Apr 19 16:43:03 2002

There are several reasons to be wary of this report of a creativity-enhancing magnetic cap. First, it is something we all would dream about - like a perpetuum mobile or a time machine. Second, it is intuitively unlikely that something as uncomplex as a relatively homogenous magnetic field would enhance creativity. Why creativity, of all things that the brain manages for us?

But the main reason for being suspicious is the parallel that the researchers make between the savant syndrome and creativity. Savants typically excel at awesome mnemonic, analytic or computational tasks, such as remembering word-by word a two-hour lecture, being able to write down a twelve-part fugue part by part, after having heard it once, or being able flawlessly to multiply 154897 by 355891 in one's head in five seconds.

Impressive as such feats are, they have not the slightest whatsoever to do with creativity. Indeed, the vast majority of savants are remarkably non-creative, compared to normal human beings. The savant that cam

Posted by: acb Fri Apr 19 16:57:49 2002

Oliver Sacks' <I>An Anthropologist on Mars</I> touches on the issue of savantism and creativity, with the case of a severely autistic young man who can draw impressive scenes from memory. It shows that his talent is not purely mechanical reproduction, but has the expressive traits of artistic creativity. Well worth reading.

Posted by: Eliot Gelwan Mon Apr 22 02:23:38 2002

I wrote about this from my p.o.v. as a psychiatrist in my weblog Follow Me Here.

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