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E-book

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

ISBN: 978-0-470-65143-8
384 pages
September 2010, Jossey-Bass
Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity, and Innovation in Your Life (0470651431) 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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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

To Stevie and Nacie—the creative bookends of my life

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Shelley Carson, Ph.D., 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.

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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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