A great idea comes all of a sudden. In the depths of the mind, networks of brain cells perform a sublime symphony, and a twinkle of insight pops into consciousness. Unexpected as they are, these lightbulb moments seem impossible to orchestrate. Recent studies suggest otherwise. By freeing the mind of some of its inhibitions, we might improve creative problem solving.
The human brain constantly filters thoughts and feelings. Only a small fraction of the stimuli impressed on us by our environment ascends to the level of conscious awareness. Prior learning enforces mental shortcuts that determine which sensations are deemed worthy of our attention. Our laboratory is investigating whether we can weaken these biases and boost openness to new ideas by temporarily diminishing the neural activity in specific brain areas.
I thought this was interesting, that part of the key to being more genius is what is coming into our conscious awareness, particularly as a person who has forced awareness of many mundane decisions into my conscious thought even from a very young age. Perhaps even more the money quote with regards to the connection between this article on genius and sociopaths having unique insight:
Genius, rare as it is, must demand a qualitatively different view of the world than what most of us experience. Austrian physician Hans Asperger, whose name is associated with the eponymous condition on the autism spectrum suggested that, '"a dash of autism' might set brilliant minds apart. We have been investigating this hypothesis by using weak electric current to modulate brain activity in healthy people in our laboratory. The effects fade in an hour, preserving normal cognition. This method of brain stimulation is safe and portable - a 'creativity cap' - that anyone might use to spur creativity on demand.
Carrie Mathison from the Showtime drama Homeland anyone? Particularly on the tails of the recent article on how to raise a genius, I like this idea that genius demands a qualitatively different view of the world than what most people experience. Especially when that requirement is taken into consideration, it does seem a damn shame to kill off sociopathic babies once they can be identified as aberrant, no?