The Brain, the Mind: Mental Creativity

A Theory in Terms of Neurophysiology and Cognitive Psychology
by Helmut Schwab, Princeton, NJ, based on an essay written in 1994

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Mental creativity is highly valued in modern society as the basis of innovation. It is a function of the brain. Better understanding of this function should result in higher creativity. A theory of mental creativity is proposed in this essay, based on four rather basic hypotheses. These basic hypotheses lead to the explanation of three neurophysiological phenomena that, jointly, produce mental creativity. Several consequences for creativity improvement are indicated.

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Definition of practical creative thought and innovation
  3. The Approach
  4. The brain’s selection of a course in the sequencing of individual thought phases in time
  5. The brain’s capability for focused thought
  6. The transition from subconscious to conscious thought and recognition of “ideas”
  7. Summary comments regarding the limitations and the enhancement of creative thought
  8. Some corollary comments

  9. Bibliography


Three basic phenomena form the basis for mental creativity (not including artistic creativity) in terms of neurophysiology and cognitive psychology and must be explained first:

  1. The sequencing of individual foreground thought phases in time - the natural selection of a course of thought.
  2. The capability for focused thought.
  3. The transition from subconscious to conscious thought.
This article demonstrates that only four rather basic premises, or hypotheses, are necessary and sufficient to explain these three phenomena. Understanding the phenomena then leads to the following results: