The Creating Brain

The Neuroscience of Genius

Nancy C. Andreasen

Cloth • $23.95 • 197 pages 
ISBN: 978-1932594072
Published November 2005

Also available as an e-book

Michelangelo was raised in a rustic village by a family of modest means. Shakespeare's father was a middle-class businessman. Abraham Lincoln came from a family of itinerant farmers. Yet all these men broke free from their limited circumstances and achieved brilliant careers as creative artists and leaders. How such extraordinary creativity develops in the human brain is the subject of renowned psychiatrist Nancy Andreasen's The Creating Brain.

Andreasen explains here how the brain produces creative breakthroughs in art, literature, and science, revealing that creativity is not the same thing as intelligence. She scrutinizes the complex factors involved in the development of creativity, including the role of patrons and mentors, "non-standard" educations, and the possession of an "omnivorous" vision. A fascinating interview with acclaimed playwright Neil Simon sheds further light on the creative process. The relationship between genius and insanity also plays an important role in Andreasen's examination. Drawing on her studies of writers in the Iowa Writers' Workshop and other scientific evidence, Andreasen asserts that while creativity may sometimes be linked to mental disorders and may be partially due to familial/genetic factors, neither is inevitable nor needed for creativity to flourish.

Scientist's increasing understanding of the brain's plasticity suggests even more possibilities for nurturing the creative drive, and Andreasen looks ahead to exciting implications for child-rearing and education. The Creating Brain presents an inspiring vision for a future where everyone—not just artists or writers—can fulfill their creative capacity.


Chapter 1: The Nature of Creativity: The Ingenious Human Brain

Chapter 2: In Search of Xanadu: Understanding the Creative Person and the Creative Process

Chapter 3: Reaching Xanadu: How Does the Brain Create?

Chapter 4: Genius and Insanity: Creativity and Brain Disease

Chapter 5: What Creates the Creative Brain?

Chapter 6: Building Better Brains: Creativity and Brain Plasticity



“An expert analysis of the connections between extraordinary creativity, mental illness, intelligence and the social environment... Andreasen leaves us with hope that the potential exists to enhance the creative capacity in our children and in ourselves."
    –Publishers Weekly (starred review)


“Our leading authority on creativity reveals herself with this splendid book as one of the most valuably creative persons of our time."
    –Kurt Vonnegut

“This splendid, quick read should be a compulsory assignment for those students of the humanities who think themselves irrevocably bored with biology of any sort, including what they will find to be the fascinating links to the human brain's most powerful cultural tool, the capacity for extraordinary creativity... I highly recommend it."
    –Floyd Bloom, Professor Emeritus of Neuropharmacology, The Scripps Research Institute and former editor-in-chief of Science

“Nancy Andreasen's book comes as a welcome antidote to this inherent conservatism and shows us how creativity can be approached scientifically. In a market flooded with ‘new age' books on creativity, Dr. Andreasen's meticulously researched contribution comes as a breath of fresh air."
    –V.S. Ramachandran, M.D., Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California–San Diego, and author of A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness

“I've been a novelist for 37 years and suddenly I understand myself better. Nancy Andreasen's The Creating Brain is a fascinating journey into the nature and secrets of the creative brain. The sections on Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci are amazing, and the concluding exercises could be life changing."
    –David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of The Brotherhood of the Rose and Creepers

“Our observations during forty years as teachers of music using Shinichi Suzuki's philosophy of early childhood education (Ability Development from Age Zero) find resonance in these scientific discoveries"
William and Doris Preucil, Past Presidents of the Suzuki Association of the Americas