Brain Mission: Longevity’s Creative Frontier – 2

That magic ride for my MRI three years ago. It was quite a road trip, in itself a sunny story. It was a suggestion from the clinic people that I bring a music CD to listen to while I was in the machine, so I brought along Franz Schubert’s Trout Quintet. Perfect choice. How did I know? Was my brain in a creativity mode? My mind somehow worked itself to a heightened state of orchestration, in sync with the thumping rhythm of the MRI during the third movement, Scherzo: Presto.

trout quintetIn last week’s blog, I referenced that there are many ways to augment creativity in the brain at any stage of life, and the first place to start is to create environments for creativity. This was one of my questions for Dr. Adolfo Cotter at Cognimetrix Inc. He started by suggesting that we find “a peaceful environment to allow our brains to wonder.” Well you could say that the inside of an MRI machine is not exactly a peaceful place, but in my case, I know I musically smoked the Trout.

Ironically, three months before my MRI, Dr. Cotter said in a 2012 Globe & Mail article:

“The challenge is that by inducing creativity instead of it developing spontaneously, we create pressure that can actually block creativity. We’re designing tests to get the subject to spontaneously come up with a creative thought so that we can image the brain to see which part that idea ‘came’ from.”

Arts and the brain mission

So longevity’s creative frontier – do we run out of ideas as we age? Does creativity and the brain change as we age? Is there something to that spontaneity factor? In an article from Psychology Today in 2009, Shelley H. Carson, Ph.D., a Lecturer at Harvard University, Department of Psychology says:

“…the aging brain is more distractible and somewhat more disinhibited than the younger brain (so is the creative brain). Aging brains score better on tests of crystallized IQ (and creative brains use crystallized knowledge to make novel and original associations). These changes in the aging brain may make it ideally suited to accomplish work in a number of creative domains.”

Distractible, disinhibited. These descriptors seem to flow with that spontaneity Dr. Cotter talks about. As many researchers offer, there is a strong connectivity between the arts and the brain mission for creativity. Music for me has always been the singular stimulus. I may not have exactly done what McMaster University neuroscientist Steven Brown did inside an MRI machine, but maybe we were on the same brain mission.

Smoke that Trout.

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