Nancy C. An­dreasen on “Un­der­stand­ing Ge­nius” at the Santa Fe In­sti­tute

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Cre­ative spark

Cre­ativ­ity is con­sid­ered by many to be a mys­te­ri­ous, un­ex­plain­able force. Some peo­ple be­lieve it can be taught or at least honed as a skill to im­prove per­sonal hap­pi­ness. In the mind of a true artis­tic ge­nius, cre­ativ­ity of­ten man­i­fests it­self along­side psy­cho­log­i­cal is­sues — as in the case of pain­ters Vin­cent van Gogh and Paul Gau­guin, who had a messy, vi­o­lent friend­ship, and nei­ther of whom func­tioned well in ev­ery­day so­ci­ety. Such think­ing gives rise to the idea that all artists are crazy. But where does cre­ativ­ity ac­tu­ally come from? Can it be seen in brain imag­ing? Is there re­ally a con­nec­tion be­tween artis­tic tem­per­a­ment and clin­i­cal men­tal ill­ness? Nancy C. An­dreasen, the An­drew H. Woods Chair of Psy­chi­a­try and di­rec­tor of the Neu­roimag­ing Re­search Cen­ter and Men­tal Health Clin­i­cal Re­search Cen­ter at the Univer­sity of Iowa Carver Col­lege of Medicine, is the au­thor of The Bro­ken Brain: The Bi­o­log­i­cal Revo­lu­tion in Psy­chi­a­try (1984), Brave New Brain: Con­quer­ing Men­tal Ill­ness in the Era of the Genome (2001), and The Cre­at­ing Brain: The Neu­ro­science of Ge­nius (2005). An­dreasen is a neu­ro­sci­en­tist and psy­chi­a­trist with re­search in­ter­ests in cre­ativ­ity, spir­i­tu­al­ity, neu­roimag­ing, ge­nomics, and the nat­u­ral history and neu­ral mech­a­nisms of schizophre­nia. She helped es­tab­lish the foun­da­tions for the study of stress dis­or­ders by writ­ing the def­i­ni­tion of post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der (PTSD) for the Di­ag­nos­tic and Sta­tis­ti­cal Man­ual of Men­tal Dis­or­ders (DSM) III, and she re­ceived the Pres­i­dent’s Na­tional Medal of Science in 2000. An­dreasen de­liv­ers the free lec­ture “Un­der­stand­ing Ge­nius: The Neu­ro­science of Ex­tra­or­di­nary Cre­ativ­ity,” at 7:30 p.m. on Wed­nes­day, July 15, for the Santa Fe In­sti­tute, at the James A. Lit­tle Theater (1060 Cer­ril­los Road). For in­for­ma­tion call 505-984-8800. — Jen­nifer Levin

Nancy C. An­dreasen

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