Mental creativity of the practical kind allowed humanity to develop civilizations (with artistic creativity leading to “cultures”). In modern times, creative thought is the most important brain process when it comes to working on scientific, technical, or business problems. Creativity leading to innovation is often presented as the key factor for industrial and national leadership. What do we know about this process of “mental creativity” in the way it really occurs, in the mind, in neurophysiological terms? How can we explain that a heap of fibrous cells in our body can come up with a new idea? How can we improve creativity where and when it is needed, in order to arrive at significant innovation?

We know that mental creativity is related to the frontal lobes of the brain and to, among other things, neural connectivity and the synaptic connections of the neurons therein. We may understand reflexes, memory formation, even individual visualizations. But what causes creative thought? What can the brain accomplish, and what can it not? How can one improve creativity? Knowledge in this area is still inadequate, theories are fragmented.

There is a wealth of empirical and circumstantial knowledge regarding creativity. Many different research and development institutions have tried many different practical approaches to improve the creativity of their scientists and other employees. Some methods worked better than others, some worked only for a short time. Behavioral approaches to the problem of creativity remain symptomatic as long as they are not sufficiently based on neurophysiological knowledge. Therefore, they are often inadequate.

Science often progresses by establishing underlying facts, then formulating premises or hypotheses leading to new theories. Research and experiments have to confirm the hypotheses and theories before they can be accepted as factual, often by confirming the theories’ predictions. Today, a comprehensive theory of mental creativity based on plausible or confirmable hypotheses, and on the level of nerval structure and nerval signaling, is required. This essay attempts to contribute to the establishment of just such a theory.