What does the neuroscience of these artists say about art theory?
When it comes to a creative person’s brain, the answer seems straightforward. Artists have more cerebral cortexes than other humans. In some respects, this is because the artists have more brain, and in other respects, that’s because they’re smarter at visual perception.
You can think of the artists cortex as a small part of the larger human cerebral cortex. When you’re looking at a painting, visual processing is in the art part of the brain, and when it comes time to talk about art, it’s the parts of the brain that allow you to do that. People who have a particularly high degree of intelligence are usually also good artists—because they can recognize patterns quickly and pick up on other things.
Does the theory apply to other artistic pursuits?
There are some very interesting studies that look at the differences between artistic genius and artistic incompetence. There’s a literature on how to think about creative ability—how to evaluate it and how to apply it. One of the main ways is to recognize the talent as something that goes beyond IQ, which I think is a very good thing. Creativity really requires creativity.
Some people have this idea that it’s the inability to think creatively. I’m not sure that’s right, and I think that if you look at the research, you’ll find that creativity occurs at the crossroads between intelligence and creativity. It’s not about a person not having an easy time with a simple task for no discernable reason. It’s just being able to be able to imagine a series of things. Even a great mathematician can have a terrible day, and he’ll still have an idea. A great physicist might have a lousy day, and he’ll still come back with new ideas.
Do other creative people, including rock stars, have the same talent for creativity?
In my research, I had a group of young musicians who were very well-compensated and well-known across the globe. I’m interested in the correlation between creative and professional achievement. What separates the professional musicians from the ordinary person with no musical talent? I think the answer is creativity. That’s the difference between the average musician and a top scientist who has a particular gift.
Do you find that people who are skilled at painting or musicians are less likely to be great composers or musicians, as opposed to composers who aren’t good at composing or singers with lots of talent?
The answer is
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