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Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity, and Innovation in Your Life

ISBN: 978-0-470-54763-2
384 pages
October 2010, Jossey-Bass
Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity, and Innovation in Your Life (0470547634) cover image


Research-based techniques that show everyone how to expand creativity and increase productivity

Harvard psychologist Shelley Carson?s provocative book, published in partnership with Harvard Health Publications, reveals why creativity isn't something only scientists, investors, artists, writers, and musicians enjoy; in fact, all of us use our creative brains every day at home, work and play.  Each of us has the ability to increase our mental functioning and creativity by learning to move flexibly among several brain states.

  • Explains seven brain states or "brainsets" and their functions as related to creativity, productivity, and innovation
  • Provides quizzes, exercises, and self-tests to activate each of these seven brainsets to unlock our maximum creativity

Your Creative Brain, called by critics a ?new classic? in the field of creativity, offers inspiring suggestions that can be applied in both one?s personal and professional life.

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Table of Contents

Preface vii

Acknowledgments xi

Part 1

Meet Your Creative Brain 1

1 Wanted: Your Creative Brain 3

Why activating your creativity is important to individual and societal well-being

2 Your Mental Comfort Zone 13

Introduction to the seven brainsets

Fun quizzes to determine which brainset is your mental comfort zone

3 Tour Your Creative Brain 39

Brief introduction to the parts of brain that are important to the creative process

4 Brainsets and the Creative Process 55

Description of the stages that comprise both the deliberate and the spontaneous creative process

Part 2

Training Your Creative Brain 71

5 Opening the Mind: Accessing the Absorb Brainset 73

Access externally and internally generated information with an uncritical eye

6 Imagining the Possibilities: Accessing the Envision Brainset 103

Use the power of mental imagery to construct creative ideas

7 Thinking Divergently: Accessing the Connect Brainset 123

Associate novel information to produce a multitude of ideas

8 Shaping the Creative Idea: Accessing the Reason Brainset 155

Consciously work through a creative “problem”

9 Recognizing Useful Ideas: Accessing the Evaluate Brainset 181

Evaluate creative ideas for appropriateness

10 Using Emotion Creatively: Accessing the Transform Brainset 207

Put your negative emotions to work for you

11 Performing Creatively: Accessing the Stream Brainset 233

Practice skill-appropriate improvisation

Part 3

Putting the CREATES Strategies to Work 257

12 Flexing Your Creative Brain 259

Exercises for switching between brainsets to enhance cognitive flexibility

13 Applying the Brainsets to Real-World Creativity 279

Tips for using the brainsets in all stages of the creative process

Appendixes 293

1 How to Score the CREATES Brainsets Assessment 293

2 The Token Economy System 305

3 The Daily Activities Calendar 309

Notes 311

References 339

About the Author 357

About Harvard Medical School 358

Index 359

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Author Information

Shelley Carson, PhD, teaches, conducts research, and publishes on the topics of creativity, psychopathology, and resilience at Harvard University. Her work has been featured on the Discovery Channel, CNN, and NPR, and she has won multiple teaching awards for her popular course Creativity: Madmen, Geniuses, and Harvard Students. She also writes the Life as Art blog for Psychology Today and discusses current findings in creativity research on her Web site http://ShelleyCarson.com.
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Basing this book on her Harvard psychology course, Creativity: Madmen, Geniuses, and Harvard Students, Carson sees creativity in a broader context—not just coming up with new ideas but being able to evaluate them and put the good ones to practical use. Each phase of this process utilizes different brain states, and each person feels more comfortable in some brain states than in others. Carson includes self-tests for discovering which brain states the student favors, exercises to strengthen the weaker brain states, and help in sticking to the program. Unlike most self-help books, this is grounded in solid experimental work. The only downside is that the actual text is a bit dull, and attempts to lighten it (e.g., with a series of unfunny jokes and cartoons about a creative caveman and his dim sidekick) fall flat. Readers with whom this title will resonate will probably skip straight to the "What brainset do you prefer?" quiz. VERDICT Readers who liked Michael Gelb's How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci will love this. So will the self-improvement and business seminar–loving crowd. And for once they're getting some substance! (Library Journal, September 15, 2010)
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Press Release

December 08, 2010
Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity, and Innovation in Your Life

Your Creative Brain

Frames creativity as a set of neurological pathways anyone can learn to activate

Most experts agree that challenges and dangers, as well as the opportunities, of the accelerated change climate of the 21st century will help you.....

  • Boost your self-esteem
  • Become successful and happy
  • Find a mate
  • Reinvent your professional life
  • Increase your earning capacity
  • Manage your time and resources
  • Engage your kids
  • Sharpen your mind and memory
  • Ward off mental decline
  • Bring your artistic ideas to fruition
  • Improve your mental health
  • Improve your physical health
  • Improve you mental health

Creativity was once thought to be a trait some people possess and others don’t, but Harvard psychologist and researcher Shelley Carson insists otherwise: “Creativity is have creative potential. The trick is learning to tap into it.”  Combining scientific findings from brain imaging studies, brain injury cases, neuropsychological investigations and interviews with hundreds of creative achievers, Dr. Carson has discovered what differentiates those who “wow” others with their creative breadth from those who demonstrate “average” creativity.  It is in the way we access and apply our innate creative functions– highly creative people use specific “brain activation patterns.”

She has developed the “CREATES brainsets model,” a set of seven brain states involved in creative thought. And with fun quizzes, exercises, and problem-sets she helps readers identify their own creative strengths, or “mental comfort zones,” and learn how to move out of them in order to strengthen lesser used creative capacities. A “token economy system” provides incentive, encouraging the reader’s progress by awarding more tokens for working in brainsets than in comfortable ones.

Enhancing your creativity can positively affect how you think, approach problems and perceive the world—whether you are at home or in the workplace.  The benefits? More happiness, more good health, more productivity, more innovation…more OPTIONS!



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