This paper reflects the research and thoughts of a student at the time the paper was written for a course at Bryn Mawr College. Like other materials on Serendip, it is not intended to be "authoritative" but rather to help others further develop their own explorations. Web links were active as of the time the paper was posted but are not updated.

Contribute Thoughts | Search Serendip for Other Papers | Serendip Home Page

Biology 202, Spring 2005
Third Web Papers
On Serendip

"How Creativity Arises: Brilliance in Some of Us"

Neurobiology Student 2005


Just as a particular cut of diamond is indicative of its brilliance, some diamonds, no matter how polished, will never sparkle as brightly as others. When it comes to "uncovering the secrets of creative thinking"- it seems absurd to imply that there is a hidden conventional method by which those uninspired individuals might gain enlightenment. In Creativity For Dummies (2), the author abruptly concludes, "there is no deceptively simple scheme of generating creativity...however, take a good hard look at your life and ask, 'does my life suck?' and if your answer is, yes it [sic: your life] does suck, then make the necessary changes to see that you surround yourself with inspiration! Dummy." While Creativity For Dummies could be a little less condescending in tone, one cannot help but feel the author's frustration with the nation's deficit in creativity, and the overwhelming desire for a quick fix. Part of the argument that creativity can be cultivated or unleashed in everyone can be traced back to common assumptions such as God is inherently good, or one is innocent until proven guilty, but when did we lose sight of the probability and the selectivity of brilliance in creative people? Perhaps there is a creative spark in all, but what causes a thunderbolt within the brain's mental exchange out of which consistent brilliance arises, ultimately classifying the person as a genius?

As synonyms must be chosen with the utmost care, a brilliant person, aka genius, must be somewhat defined, "GZA (pronounced The Jizza, aka The Genius, Maxi Million, Justice, born Gary Grice August 22, 1966 in Staten Island, New York) is an American rapper and member of The Wu-Tang Clan. GZA is, along with Ghostface Killah, widely considered the best rapper in the nine-person clan, and his solo work has been critically acclaimed" (3)....whoops. "A Genius is a person imbued with distinguished mental prowess. This can manifest either as a foremost intellect, or as an outstanding creative talent. The term also applies to one who is a polymath, or someone skilled in many mental areas. The term does specifically apply to mental rather than athletic skills, although it is also used to denote the possession of a superior talent in any field; e.g., one may be said to have a genius for golf or for diplomacy" (4). Who ever would have thought that golf and diplomacy would be definitive areas of genus? The website goes on to say that geniuses exhibit a "phenomenal brilliance" and "differentiate themselves from the rest through great originality." The energy that's involved in building a genius...wait, the rest? So then we have just established that yes, unfortunately, geniuses are different from the rest of us in ways. Big ways.


1. Their composition is "99% inspiration, 1% perspiration" (5).
2. "They see things differently, they expect more of themselves than the rest of us" (6).
3. Geniuses look different in that I'm-a-genius-type-of-way. They also act different, either really cool, or totally weird.
4. Isn't Genesis usually left up to individual interpretation?


Biologically, the energy that's involved in creating genius starts in utero. Not only is every child born into sin, but each child has the capacity for creative behavior. Whether or not that behavior is nurtured into genius is almost entirely a function of the child's upbringing and environment. Children that are born with autism or epilepsy are not necessarily handicapped creatively, if anything, children with developmental disabilities have a mentally open door to creativity. But the greater tragedy in today's society is that many gifted children, i.e. those displaying extraordinary intelligence or talent in a certain field, are not challenged at home and in school and develop disorders which hinder their creative capacity. Children with an immense capacity for understanding adult concepts might tend to withdraw from their age-appropraite social group as a result of their peer's lack of understanding. Many public schools have become a training ground for tortured souls and troubled youths; pumping out drug addicted kids who use out of boredom. This is not to say that drugs don't aid in stimulating and enhancing the creative processes, but education is a fundamental part of a child's development, and if an avid interest in the nature of the inner and outer world isn't encouraged, then the brain simply ceases creative function. This is why schools are so fundamentally important to developing the brilliance in our children, because genius is a mixture of language, perception, consciousness, learning, memory, and thinking. Proper psychological functioning is pivotal to brainwave activity and the central nervous system. Is creativity a function of inhibition? Is that why children are capable of such exuberance, because they simply lack the strongholds that bar adults from openly engaging in conversation with imaginary friends, or playing a spontaneous game of pretend? Via the deductive method, we can reduce creativity as follows: creativity--> inhibition--> social development--> mental activity--> environment--> home. Brilliance develops inside those children who grow up in an environment which reinforces the importance of asking questions, understanding, and experimentation.


1. "Geniuses are not eccentric...they have the intense that no force on earth can stop it" (5).

2. They are the only people who make history books.

3. "Geniuses are deprived individuals. I wonder if there's like, a disassociation from society. I mean, these f-ing people who sit around all day writing and reading books, I mean, Jesus, how many people have time to sit around an do that shit all day? I'd be a f-ing genius if I did that too. I mean, shit, that's why my brother's so much smarter than me, because he started reading earlier on that I did. Smart little m&*^%#f**ker" (11).



While there seems to be a never-ending supply of money to fund special-education programs in schools, there are very few public institutions which offer advanced level programs specifically suited for gifted children- there simply isn't any money to reward those children with an earnest hunger for knowledge and understanding. However, once the genius ages to sweet sixteen, she can take the Mensa entrance exam to find out if she is certifiably "wicked smart." Mensa was founded in 1946 by Barrister Roland Berrill and lawyer moonlighting as scientist Lance Ware. The not-so-secret society had one staggering qualification for applicants: a very high IQ. Also, for anyone who isn't Asian, don't worry, Mensa doesn't discriminate. In fact, Mensa membership includes the club's exclusive magazine only issued to those in Mensa. For a small fee, (and barring that you fail the exam), you can have your own laminated Mensa Membership card which proves your IQ is "in the top 2% of the population." Sweet, geniuses unite, take back the light (7). To find out if you qualify to be a Mensan, and also boost your ego in case your having a fit of the smarty woes, take the online Mensa Mental Workout (10).


Right Brain Left Brain: Back to the Subject of Creativity and because they're so cute, little kiddies

Where does creativity come from and does it really have to do with using a specific part of the brain? Only in the 1960's did Robert Sperry prove that the "brain is divided into two major hemispheres" (12), which are responsible for very different cognitive processes or modes of thinking. While the left brain is associated with analytical and logical cognitive processes, the right side is thought to be more random, intuitive, and creative. The brain functions through a delicate system of neural networks. Thinking involves a flow of activity from cell A to cell B, a sort of firing action which takes place in stimulating cell activity. The interplay and exchange of information is carried through these neurons to form cell assemblies, or networks in a global movement of information through brainwaves (14). While this free flow is constant, it creates pathways the brain will use over and over again, even after the external stimuli are removed, facilitating parts of the muscular system (15). Cognitive processes can be explained in terms of connections between assemblies of neurons, rapidly firing within the neo-cortal framework. However, should there be an interruption in the dance of distribution of activity, it could cause information to be lost. Since brain = behavior, it makes sense that cognitive conception of the creative process must be played out in some fashion. Therefore, if there is an abrupt shift from right brain to left brain activity, it inhibits the growth of the brain as a whole entity. Not only is the brain a holistically complete functioning mass of neural networks, but it is a creature of habit, and if certain neural pathways are destroyed or not exercised, they begin to weaken, and thought blockage occurs. When networks of neural connections become stalled, it causes internal conflict, and the entire flow of mental activity is disturbed. Training creative faculties is an integral, if not essential part of human growth. Children's curiosity and imagination in the early stages of development cannot be replicated later on in life. Playing barbie or dress-up at 22 is simply not the same, and not as delightful as it was when you were 7. Once a child enters into the academic institution, the focus shifts from right brain activity to left brain- solving-the-problem-correctly mode of thinking. As Sperry pointed out, "Our educational system, as well as science in general, tends to neglect the nonverbal form of intellect. What it comes down to is that modern society discriminates against the right hemisphere" (12).

HYSTERIA.... and people with brain damage

Van Gogh cut off his ear, Dali liked to trip, Einstein couldn't get enough women- what's the matter with these artists? What makes them lost regard for social norms and how is it that creativity and brilliance is unleashed in many people who have suffered serious accidents? Since brain damage can be hereditary or due to an injury of sorts, it's important to note just where the brain damage occurs. A creative idea doesn't just come out of nowhere, it is part of cognitive processes that arise in the right brain and are then evaluated and judged by the left. The brain and behavior must be thought of as a complete entity, a whole, thus what affects one side will inevitably affect the other. In his article, Unleashing Creativity, Kraft explains how the left brain's "convergent thinking can inhibit the right brain's divergent thinking." (1). After years and years of schooling where children are predominantly taught to use their left brains, creative development becomes stalled, even squelched by the left brain's reasoning power. What's so intriguing about people who suffer accidents that affect the left side of their brain is that usually they become less inhibited, showing little regard for their actions both privately and publicly, almost forgetfully reckless. Since the left hemisphere is responsible for conducting the checks and balances, when there is damage, although it may allow a person to transcend barriers, it impairs communication, which is an essential part of life.

The bottom line is, almost everyone is born with the capacity to learn. Whether intellectual or artistic growth is stimulated is entirely a function of environment. Not every child is a genius, but every child is capable of brilliance and creativity. Whenever growth is stalled, whether through education, injury, or environment, it inevitably has an affect on the individual. If the left side of the brain is predominately used over the right, then the child may not be good at making dioramas, but it doesn't point out that the child is not intelligent. True genius is not inside everyone, it is the product of a creative inhibition grounded in the electrical network of neurons all over the brain. Above all, being a genius IS A SPECIAL and UNIQUE THING that distinguishes a person from the rest of us. To achieve great ideas, one must create a special-interest incubation chamber inside the mind to harbor good ideas. The next step is to completely disassociate the self from others' opinions and society, as they simply do not matter. The third step is to finally begin to live life in a manner conducive to the individual desires and longings of the self- why not walk down the path you always stare at instead of just standing there? While these ideas will inspire creativity, they will not make you a genius, and neither will reading this webpaper. There is no test one can take to become a member of that select group, for to be a genius is to become master of your own fishing pond, and unfortunately, people with goldfish are going to have a hard time competing with those who have marlins. .


1) Kraft, Ulrich. How Brilliance Arises: Creativity in Every One of Us. Scientific American Mind, Volume 16, No. 1.
This title was almost directly lifted from Kraft's article, and as the reader will see, the author so cleverly seeks to single out that the group who can truly be described as "brilliant" or "creative" is not only small, but selective, and that Scientific American has not only advertised a campy "there's something special in each and every one of us" slogan, but also proves how utterly starved the public is for truthful headlines under this political administration.

2) Creativity For Dummies.
Another absurd title from a book which outlines the step-by-step process by which one might go about achieving creative ideas. Readers should pay particular attention to "Step Number One- the art of smokin' the reefer." This completely fictional book was actually inspired by the author's own creative cognitive techniques, which are not, unfortunately, for sale.

3) The Free Encyclopedia, Comic relief. Yes, it's okay to laugh, that's a fundamental part of being a genius.

4) The Free Encyclopedia, First of all, everyone should know that "this article is about people with exceptional mental abilities." However, it doesn't mean you need to be a genius to appreciate it, you need to be able to read, operate a computer, and have a sense of humor. Make sure to scroll to the bottom of the page, see: stupidity.

5) Genius - An Obvious Truth or an Eternal Mystery?, After reading this article, the reader will ask herself, why is there a question mark after the title?
5) Quote attributed to Leonardo DaVinci.

6) O'Sullivan Struggles to Show his Genius, Apparently O'Sullivan is a genius at playing Snooker, whatever the heck that is.

7) "Geniuses unite, take back the light." In this statement the author means to imply that the survival of the intellectually fittest could be devestating to the rest of the common people, should the smarties choose to unite and steal fire from the rest of their fellow comrades (1).

8) The use of the term "comrades" is an omage to fellow Genius Ayn Rand.

9) Mensa International Website, Mensa....hahaha, there's also a dating link on this site where single Mensans can meet others single Mensans and talk about all kinds of really intelligent things. Don't ask how the author knows this.


11) Quote attributed to the Author's genius roommate, fellow geek, scrabble lover, and local Henderson High School Video Production teacher-fav.

12) Sperry, Check out this site for information on Sperry and his breakthrough work.

13) Neuro Networks, Complete explanation of the way the neural network processes and distributes information throughout the cortical regions.

14) Neurobio link of Serendip Webpage, Neurobiology Student 2005's fantastic paper on sublimity and brainwave activity in which she asserts that truly creative cognitive processes arise when the brain the vibrating somewhere in the theta state.

15) Hebb Legacy, Donald Olding Hebb first came up with the idea of neuropsychological cell assembly. "He point(ed) out that every bit of behavior is jointly determined by heredity and environment, just as the area of a field is jointly determined by its length and its width.

16) Right Brain/ Left Brain Website, For kids with easy-to-understand information on Sperry and right brain left brain experiments.

*in case you didn't notice that creative license was taken with this paper, now you do.

| Course Home | Serendip Home |

Send us your comments at Serendip

© by Serendip 1994- - Last Modified: Wednesday, 08-Jan-2020 07:40:33 CST