A Theory in Terms of Neurophysiology and Cognitive Psychology
by Helmut Schwab, Princeton, NJ, based on an essay written
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Abstract: 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.
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:
The sequencing of individual foreground thought phases in time - the natural
selection of a course of thought.
The capability for focused thought.
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:
The strongest synaptic connection is selected for thought sequencing -
with synaptic strength resulting from a variety of factors.
Mental creativity, as other constructive processes in nature, is combinatorial
- using existing memory elements, sensory perceptions, and communicated
information to form new or more complex concepts or systems of thought.
Therefore, it is the quantity, attributed significance, diversity, and
interconnectivity (addressability) of these elements in individuals or
in teams that determine creativity.
Creative thought is provoked by new focus (new questions or perspectives)
or newly available mental building blocks or perceptions.
Creativity is continuous (gap-less).
Alternating concentration and rest increase creativity.
Psychological factors (personality, temperament, and psychological environment)
significantly influence creativity.
Consciousness is a virtual phenomenon resulting merely from memory for
thought or perceptions.
The brain optimizes speed, economy, and personal comfort in handling common
tasks, problems, or threats over exhaustiveness of inquiry, optimizing
of results, and personal exposure.
A large part of modern innovation is derived merely from pattern recognition