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Guest Lecture - Rex Jung

Terrill Yazzie

On Monday February 27, 2012 our class had a guest speaker from the psychology department, Dr. Rex Jung. He presented an interesting focus about creativity and gave us further information regarding his opinions and thoughts about his study entitled: What Matter Integrity, Creativity, and Psychopathology: Disentangling Constructs with Diffusion Tensor Imaging (2010). Dr. Jung studies the neurological and psychological aspects of aliments, such as lupus, and is a leader in his field who also presented this same talk in Charlotte, West Virginia. He stressed that in the field of psychology there exists neurological myths.

So how do we measure creativity and genius? When constructing a definition for creativity, people tend to interpret it as intellect. There is a stereotype that people must emulate a genius like Albert Einstein-although he did have more glial cells in his brain that increased his cortical mass. Dr. Jung defined intelligence as the ability to problem solve, reason, and the ability to act on a problem. Then he broke down reasoning into two components: deductive and inductive reasoning. On the other hand, creativity is the production of something useful and novel. Dr. Jung is creative to me because he conjured up his own words to explain his opinions with words such as "plebeophobia" and the acronym HORRNI. The plebeophobia is his way of explaining that people generally have a fear of the normal distribution or that mental illness and creativity go hand in hand. For HORRNI, people over interpret research regarding our left and right brain hemispheres. When establishing something as creative, one must consider the social aspect of the idea-is it useful or novel. He also presented ideas that paralleled with ideas in class about the steps to insight. There is a four step process of accessing new thoughts: a stage of preparation to know the facts, a time of incubation, a time of reflection, and illumination. In conclusion to his study, he found that the lower frontal lobe structure and integrity appears to be associated with higher creativity. Also, our frontal lobe integrity is gradually degrading as we age, but it allows us to be more creative in our senior years. One hopeful idea that Dr. Jung stated is that we can build back integrity with 10,000 hrs of practice-it can be learned.

Final ideas: Prepare, Practice, Produce, and Preserve.

3 Questions

  1. In Linchpin, the author promotes the idea that our primitive lizard brain deters the creativity of the neuro-cortex. If neurotransmitters are the brains signals, are there chemical signals from the reptilian brain that suppress cognitive performance?
  2. What is the current consensus for the definition of creativity among the psychologist?
  3. If a person has a strong social intelligence and convinces their audience that an idea is novel and useful, do we consider them creative?

3 Future directions

  1. Assess how the concentrations of N-acetyl-aspartate in the anterior cingulated cortex and how they relate to divergent thinking.
  2. Use fractional anisotrophy to study the de-myelination of Alzheimer's patients to understand the degeneration process of the disease.
  3. Use current knowledge about creativity, especially divergent thinking, to develop novel psych test that explore the brain and creativity, rather than quantify it.