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Art and Cognitive Science: Seven Amazing TED Talks

First Posted: 01/19/11 10:10 PM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 07:25 PM ET

In the last couple of decades, the market for oversimplifying creativity has exploded. No executive seminar is complete without a presentation on "Managing Your Geeks" or "Suits versus Ponytails," and the wisdom being thrown around about personality types isn't much better than phrenology. So it should come as a relief that we're leaving the era of "thinking outside the box." We'll still do it, of course; we just won't need vague, hand-waving phrases to talk about it.

In the past decade alone, the study of creativity has moved from a soft to a hard science. Following breakthroughs in processing power, network theory and neural imaging, brain scans are replacing buzzwords. The brain sciences are starting to produce real insights about both the creation and experience of art. We've compiled some of our favorite TED Talks on these ideas in honor of Charles Limb's recent talk on the neuroscience of improvised jazz, hence the slideshow.

TED, a set of conferences with presentations about novel and often humanitarian ideas, regularly features scientists fascinated with art and artists inspired by science. The lecturers come from a variety of fields, but they share the fundamental belief that rigorous research will help, not hinder, creative expression.

Charles Limb: Your brain on improv
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We think that at least a reasonable hypothesis is that, to be creative, you have to have this weird dissociation in your frontal lobe. One area turns on, and a big area shuts off,so that you're not inhibited, so that you're willing to make mistakes, so that you're not constantly shutting down all of these new generative impulses.
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