Brain Mission: Longevity’s Creative Frontier – 1

What a stunning time of discovery we live in, fifteen percent into the 21st century.

Surely, that must have sounded a familiar account of the times when Galileo first gazed through his telescope, with a creative blur in his eyes, seeing “one giant leap for mankind” in 1969. How about the lesser-known Angelo Mosso, the physiologist credited with inventing the first method for neuroimaging in 1882. Did he see me 130 years out on that magic ride for an MRI and two EEG’s?

MossoBalanceSo many frontiers – between Mosso’s time, now and tomorrow. My MRI experience in 2012, alone did not heighten my awareness of the direction for our future’s last frontier. Our own family experience with my mother’s dementia nine years prior was enough to convince me that the foremost focus on exploring a purposeful longevity is – the brain mission.

On November 5, 2005, while my brother and I were in care giving mode with both my mother and father, I received an email from someone unknown to me who was also on the brain mission. It was Dr. Adolfo Cotter MD, and he is as it happens – a neuroscientist. It was shortly after in 2008, that Dr. Cotter invited me to be part of his team in a new start-up company dedicated to neuroscience imaging, recently renamed Cognimetrix Inc.

Creativity and the brain

Since then, I can’t begin to tell you of the many stimulating brainy conversations we have had in these stunning times; not the least of which on his personal passion subject “creativity and the brain”. When I asked Dr. Cotter, what his basic philosophy was on the power of creativity and the brain, his response, (though not with any differential to him perhaps) sounded surprisingly to me, well – less scientific, more humanistic:

“Creativity in my opinion is the basis of human progress… creativity as I understand it, is to bring useful ideas to our society…those should be ideas that can make our world a better place by looking at the big picture and not just resolving a problem here and there.”

As if there aren’t enough problems to resolve in longevity’s creative frontier, here and there, immediate and long term, always at odds for our attention. The thing is that if longevity – extended lifetimes, are to be a reality for current and future younger generations; then the conversation about aging, including the cognitive and creative powers of the brain, belongs to them too. It is not just the concern of an older demographic.

Disruptive innovation in neuroscience

A focus area for Dr. Cotter at Cognimetrix is enhancing cognition. As he says in one of his blog posts: “Enhancing cognition in every domain should be very beneficial for any human being. This is particularly true for enhancing cognitive reserve in order to avoid the worst-case scenario of having dementia….we are particularly interested in enhancing Creativity and Intelligence, and especially creativity, since this ability is what mainly characterizes us as human beings.”

There are so many ways to augment creativity in the development of a fluid mind at any age and stage of life, and indeed the ongoing research activity and financial opportunities in the modern celebrated area of “brain fitness” is almost too vast to cover here, so where do you start?

Creating environments for creativity of course.

What does that look like? Where does that happen? Is it the same, homogenized for everyone? We are at a noise level now, in this stunning time, where the shout for creativity and innovation is on every demanding agenda for an individual, a business, a community, a country. Yet we seem caught up still, in a down on the ground dilemma of what creativity really is in an age of disruptive innovation – which is exactly what is going on in neuroscience at places like MIT for example – the brain mission.

 

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