Creativity – “The more you think about it, the more you mess it up,”

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“We found that activation of the brain’s executive-control centers — the parts of the brain that enable you to plan, organize and manage your activities — is negatively associated with creative task performance,”

Unexpected brain structures tied to creativity, and to stifling it — ScienceDaily

Investigators at Stanford University have found a surprising link between creative problem-solving and heightened activity in the cerebellum, a structure located in the back of the brain and more typically thought of as the body’s movement-coordination center.

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“People with fewer friends on Facebook raise more money for charity than those with lots of connections…found a negative correlation between the size of a group and the amount of money given by each donor – with the average contribution by each person dropping for every extra connection someone had on Facebook. This research builds on and supports earlier analytical findings…that finds large social groups are less likely to share information about charitable causes when compared to those who are part of smaller circles – and that this results in less fundraising success.”

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“..females almost always evolved preferences for highly competitive males, even if mating with uncompetitive but caring males would have resulted in more offspring. These preferences, in turn, fuelled the males’ arm’s race towards higher and higher levels of competitiveness…In stressful times, like periods of food shortage, this process can even lead to population extinction, since the investment in competition exceeds the value of the resources.”

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Oh Oh!: Most Amygdala Studies of Emotions May be Wrong. The “Blobology” of fMRI Fatally Flawed?

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“This discovery..casts doubt on previous findings on amygdala function that rely solely on fMRI as evidence…“amygdala activations” reported in typical fMRI studies are likely confounded by signals originating in the BVR rather than in the amygdala itself, thus raising concerns about many conclusions on the functioning of the amygdala that rely on fMRI evidence alone..”

A few years ago I met some of the best and brightest neuroscience grad students in Chicago and was surprised at the scorn they had for “imaging” as a research tool.  The following study seems an important nail in the coffin of the claims of localization of brain function.  It is also a good cautionary note on neuroscience technologies and popular tools for mistaken research.

This kind of flaw really pulls the rug out from studies of emotions/feelings, about time!

Take Aways:

  • This discovery has rather wide-ranging implications. Most immediately, it casts doubt on previous findings on amygdala function that rely solely on fMRI as evidence, in particular where reproducibility has been limited and efforts to confirm them have repeatedly proven difficult.

    This finding is confirmed here in both a conventional fMRI dataset as well as in information of meta-analyses, implying that “amygdala activations” reported in typical fMRI studies are likely confounded by signals originating in the BVR rather than in the amygdala itself, thus raising concerns about many conclusions on the functioning of the amygdala that rely on fMRI evidence alone

  • it is important to acknowledge that, while being a very convenient tool for measuring brain activity in vivo, fMRI also has severe limitations that need to be explored in detail, but are currently often ignored or downplayed.

  • The resting-state findings illustrate that the signals seen in the voxels we found activated in the emotional task in the amygdala region are most strongly correlated with signals in areas characterized by large vessels, such as around the brain stem and in the lateral fissure.

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