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Improvisation and the brain

Jack Campin 15 Mar 13 - 08:43 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 16 Mar 13 - 04:24 AM
Bert 16 Mar 13 - 07:43 AM
Mr Red 16 Mar 13 - 10:22 AM
JohnInKansas 17 Mar 13 - 01:54 AM
Marje 17 Mar 13 - 08:41 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 19 Mar 13 - 09:35 AM
Barbara Shaw 19 Mar 13 - 09:52 AM
GUEST,sciencegeek 19 Mar 13 - 11:30 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 19 Mar 13 - 02:56 PM
Joe Offer 19 Mar 13 - 08:56 PM
Steve Parkes 20 Mar 13 - 05:55 PM
Jack Campin 20 Mar 13 - 06:02 PM
JohnInKansas 20 Mar 13 - 07:59 PM
JohnInKansas 20 Mar 13 - 08:17 PM
Rumncoke 21 Mar 13 - 05:39 AM
JohnInKansas 21 Mar 13 - 03:12 PM
Rumncoke 21 Mar 13 - 09:41 PM
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Subject: Improvisation and the brain
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Mar 13 - 08:43 PM

This is interesting:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121115133154.htm

They studied the brains of experienced freestyle rappers in an MRI scanner. It turns out that this kind of performance involves simultaneously activating parts of the brain involved in language and emotion while reducing activity in areas that normally monitor and constrain how you think. Rehearsed performances showed a different pattern of activity.

Rapping is an unusually complex kind of improvisation since it involves language. It would be interesting to find out how different purely musical improvisation looks like under MRI.


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Subject: RE: Improvisation and the brain
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 16 Mar 13 - 04:24 AM

There was a whole episode of Horizon devoted to this on Thursday night featuring a jazz pianist in an MRI scanner as he improvised on a wee keyboard. Watch it again:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01rbynt/Horizon_20132014_The_Creative_Brain_How_Insight_Works/


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Subject: RE: Improvisation and the brain
From: Bert
Date: 16 Mar 13 - 07:43 AM

I wonder how this compares with Freestyle Square Dance Callers?


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Subject: RE: Improvisation and the brain
From: Mr Red
Date: 16 Mar 13 - 10:22 AM

vision processing is needed for that. Vision soaks up a lot of mindspace. It would show that I guarantee.


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Subject: RE: Improvisation and the brain
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 17 Mar 13 - 01:54 AM

Vision soaks up a lot of mindspace ...

A new report that appeared within the last week claims to have answered the puzzle of why Neanderthals died out and homosapiens survived, when they both had about the same skull volume and hence probably about the same brain sizes.

The solution proposed is that Neanderthals died out because their eyeballs were too big. (And for that reason their eyesight was better?)

Devoting more of their brain to processing the more complex visual information accessible due to their bigger eyeballs left little room for "creative thought," so they were unable to compete with their blindly blundering homo competition who apparently spent more time "contemplating." (?)

Okeh ... ????

John


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Subject: RE: Improvisation and the brain
From: Marje
Date: 17 Mar 13 - 08:41 AM

I remember a bird expert showing us and owl and explaining that because the owl has such superb eyesight, most of its brain is taken up with this faculty, and it is in other respects pretty dim-witted, even by bird standards. A bit like Neanderthals, then.

I suppose this is all connected with the way we close our eyes to concentrate on a tune (well, I often do, particularly if I'm trying to memorise it.)

Marje


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Subject: RE: Improvisation and the brain
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 19 Mar 13 - 09:35 AM

The Horizon program had some interesting results about vision and insight. When you gain an insightful solution to a problem it's accompanied by a burst of theta waves in the area of the brain roughly above the right ear. But about 1 second before that there is a burst of alpha waves in the area at the back of the brain. This alpha wave burst is normally associated with suppression of visual processing, so it seems that visual processing is reduced before the moment of insight.

There were a few other interesting results in the programme: The first is that we respond better to visual cues in the left field of vision rather than the right (processing goes more to right hemisphere of the brain). The second is that if you take a break from a problem you are more likely to come up with a solution by doing some trivial, mindless task during the break, rather than sitting staring into space or doing something else that demands a lot of attention (in the experiments the simple task was sorting coloured Lego bricks into piles by colour, the more demanding task was building a house with the bricks; staring into space was just staring into space!). This latter might be why taking a walk about as a break from a problem often helps.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Improvisation and the brain
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 19 Mar 13 - 09:52 AM

Fascinating!


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Subject: RE: Improvisation and the brain
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 19 Mar 13 - 11:30 AM

I've always found it interesting how people- scientists included (who should know better)- always come back to the viewpoint that Neanderthals were "less than" the Cro Magnon that replaced them. Of course, the same arguments were used against Africans and Native Americans to support the "natural" supremacy of the European invaders. But since we can't put neanderthals through a series of "intelligence tests", we can only speculate on differences in intellect. After all, these guys managed to survive several hundred thousand years in ice age conditions and were spread through a fair sized geographic area... no mean achievement.

As a biologist with training in both ecology and evolutionary biology, I'd be more inclined to use reproductive success as the deciding factor. Homo sapiens breed like proverbial rabbits... and considering how both species used the same resources/niche, the newcomers out produced the locals.

Something the Grand Old Party of old white guys is scared will happen to them because of the increasing number of "minority" people percentage wise in the US.


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Subject: RE: Improvisation and the brain
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 19 Mar 13 - 02:56 PM

The Horizon programme is being aired again late tonight on BBC2, at 11:20 except Ireland where it's 11:50.

Horizon: The Creative Brain - How Insight Works
The work of scientists who are adopting unusual techniques to try to determine how flashes of inspiration come about, developing a series of puzzles and brainteasers to spark creative behaviour. The latest neuro-imaging technology means researchers can witness the birth of an idea as it happens and what they are learning has the power to make everyone more creative.


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Subject: RE: Improvisation and the brain
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Mar 13 - 08:56 PM

The thread topic, by the way, is Improvisation and the Brain. Fascinating topic, no?

-Joe-

I notified the requester by e-mail.


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Subject: RE: Improvisation and the brain
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 20 Mar 13 - 05:55 PM

According to the Radio Times (UK TV listings mag), when insight occurs, we release a "burst of gamma rays" from the responsible part of the brain. No wonder creativity hurts so much!


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Subject: RE: Improvisation and the brain
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Mar 13 - 06:02 PM

Joe, what on earth was your last message for? And who was "the requester"?


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Subject: RE: Improvisation and the brain
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 20 Mar 13 - 07:59 PM

Just a guess, but another thread asked "where someone mentioned" the Neanderthal eyeball study. Joe probably looked here to identify the thread and forgot to go back to the other thread to post the link (?).

(He's probably one of those creative people with little squinty eyes and had 20 tabs open and just wasn't on the tab he thought he was using.)

John


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Subject: RE: Improvisation and the brain
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 20 Mar 13 - 08:17 PM

The thread Joe probably meant to be in(?) was at Tech: mystified: can't find thread, a new question added in an older thread.

The question was answered there, so he probably didn't notice that his answer entered the ether. (There is a link to the article (and most of the article) a little below the post that asked the question, if anyone's interested.)

John


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Subject: RE: Improvisation and the brain
From: Rumncoke
Date: 21 Mar 13 - 05:39 AM

So that is why I spend so much time with my eyes shut or sorting the clutter into piles, I'm not being unproductive, I am being creative.

That's a relief then.


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Subject: RE: Improvisation and the brain
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 21 Mar 13 - 03:12 PM

Do we presume that you're one of those who has discovered that no matter how you sort your clutter the thing you need next is always on the bottom of one of the piles? (Usually the deepest pile.)

Being creative could be taken to include that you see things and learn something from what you see, even if it's a dim view. You could be one of those with such excellent eyesight that you've seen it all and just become bored with looking at your stuff(?), which might lead to a different conclusion than you postulated.

Complacency is dangerous.

John


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Subject: RE: Improvisation and the brain
From: Rumncoke
Date: 21 Mar 13 - 09:41 PM

Whenever I start to sort things I always find something so interesting I begin to read, or sew or paint - or I find a stray piece of something and spend hours looking for it so as to reunite the parts.

At the end of the day any room I had intended to ready up looks as though a small tornado has gone through it.


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