Brain, Mind, and the Matrix of Innovation
I have been busy writing my fourth book and, therefore, have not written much here lately. To try and compensate for it, I'd like to share with you a presentation I gave recently. In it, I discuss the nature of the creative process and its relationship to the mind-body problem. Are innovative ideas generated algorithmically by the brain? Or is brain activity, in fact, an obstacle to creative insight? An intriguing pattern in revealed: creative insight correlates precisely with a reduction of brain activity. Many cases are reviewed to substantiate this pattern: accidental savants, psychedelic trances, brain damage, hyperventilation, meditation, acceleration- and strangulation-induced loss of consciousness, traditional ordeals and initiatory rituals, transcranial magnetic stimulation, etc. The presentation concludes with the surprising idea that, analogously to how lightning is merely the image of the process of electric discharge, the brain is not the cause of mind but an image of the process of mind constriction. As such, the path to creative insight is a de-clenching, a relaxation of brain activity, not its increase. The presentation is in video format, with accurate closed captions that I created manually.
I hope you find it enjoyable!
Here is the relevant bibliography alluded to in the video:
- Bergson, H. (1912). Matter and Memory. London: George Allen & Co.
- Blanke, O. et al. (2002). Stimulating illusory own-body perceptions: The part of the brain that can induce out-of-body experiences has been located. Nature, 419, pp. 269-270.
- Carhart-Harris, R. L. et al. (2012). Neural correlates of the psychedelic state as determined by fMRI studies with psilocybin. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. [Online]. Available from: www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/01/17/1119598109 [Accessed 6 June 2012].
- Huxley, Aldous (2004). The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell. London: Vintage Books, pp. 10-11.
- Kelly, E. W., Greyson, B. and Kelly, E. D. (2009). Unusual Experiences Near Death and Related Phenomena. In: Kelly, E. D. et al. Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 367-421.
- Neal, R. M. (2008). The choking game. In: The Path to Addiction: And Other Troubles We Are Born to Know. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, pp. 310-315.
- Pascual-Leone, A. et al. eds. (2002). Handbook of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. London: Hodder Arnold.
- Retz (2007). Tripping Without Drugs: experience with Hyperventilation (ID 14651). Erowid.org. [Online]. Available from: www.erowid.org/exp/14651 [Accessed 6 June 2012].
- Rhinewine, J. P. and Williams, O. J. (2007). Holotropic Breathwork: The Potential Role of a Prolonged, Voluntary Hyperventilation Procedure as an Adjunct to Psychotherapy. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 13(7), pp. 771-776.
- Taylor, K. (1994). The Breathwork Experience: Exploration and Healing in Nonordinary States of Consciousness. Santa Cruz, CA: Hanford Mead.
- Urgesi, C. et al. (2010). The Spiritual Brain: Selective Cortical Lesions Modulate Human Self Transcendence. Neuron, 65, pp. 309-319.
- Whinnery, J. and Whinnery, A. (1990). Acceleration-Induced Loss of Consciousness: A Review of 500 Episodes. Archives of Neurology, 47(7), 764-776.
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Many, if not most, procedures aiming at reducing brain activity can be potentially dangerous and even fatal. This presentation is not meant to encourage anyone to carry out risky activities. I disclaim any and all responsibility, legal or otherwise, for any damage incurred by those choosing to run such risks, or as a consequence thereof.