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Each week on Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, explore different aspects of human behavior and the brain.

Why Creative Minds Think Alike

The part of our brains that is responsible for generating creativity evolved throughout human existence to serve a problem-solving function. 

If you lived in the great, wild, open world as a primitive human, and your problems were things like predators, or food security sources, or a need for shelter, what would your brain do? 

Your brain would concoct creative strategies to solve those problems, and that’s what our minds have built a capacity to do as we’ve evolved – create solutions. Drs. Art Markman and Bob Duke give you more of the details.

At this point, we solve problems on a much more complex scale than finding food or shelter. Our creative, human minds in society these days figure out ways to solve big problems, like food or water shortages due to overpopulation, or epidemics, or inequality, or climate change, or the potential to travel in outer space. 

We have some big problems to solve, but our very existence on the scale that we currently exist is evidence to support the assumption that we will continue to solve our problems and continue to thrive as a species on this planet.

Why? How? That’s for other smart, creative thinkers to figure out.  I just write about it. 

On that note, what about art? Creativity is often associated with artistic sensibilities or skills, like writing.  Because we no longer have to solve pressing problems in our comfortable lives, like how to escape that predator or find food, our minds often have reserves left over with which to indulge our creative impulses and we create art. 

Any artist will tell you that it’s not as easy as it may seem.  The secret to inspiring creativity is actually to impose constraints within which to work.  The vastness of infinite possibilities for artistic creativity can be so intimidating that it can shut down a creative project pretty quickly.  Artistic creativity is best served by boundaries. George Orwell framed this conundrum quite eloquently: “The absence of limitations is the enemy of art.” 

It’s an evident truth. Creativity is not an elite, special trait possessed by artists only. We are all creative.  We all find ways to solve problems in our lives and continue to exist. The human brain never ceases to amaze with its creative potential, no matter how big or small. 

Rebecca McInroy is an award-winning show creator, host, and executive producer for KUT, KUTX, and KUT.ORG.
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