Exploring Creativity and Advances in the Field at Neuroscience 2013
More than 30,000 neuroscientists from around the world met in San Diego this November to discuss their research, attend scientific presentations and workshops, and share great science. One of several discussions at the annual meeting provided insight into how creativity works in the brain, and how creative individuals interact within society. Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios President Ed Catmull discussed how he creates a culture of creativity at Pixar, highlighting issues he says are central to uncovering genius, including removing hidden barriers to creativity and candor, particularly in the workplace. “Many people fail because it is too hard to let go of a project that isn’t working,” Catmull said, in remarks at the “Dialogues Between Neuroscience and Society” lecture at Neuroscience 2013. “In a research environment, we have the desire to always get it right. In a creative context, ‘zero error’ doesn’t work.”
At another panel, Bruce Adolphe from National Public Radio’s Piano Puzzler discussed the possibility of studying the brain as it imagines sounds, to learn about where such functions live. He was joined by several guests at the Fred Kavli Public Symposium on Creativity, which focused on how the visual arts, music composition, and other forms of creativity are manifest in the human brain. Psychologist and author Kay Redfield Jamison began her remarks by naming creative historical figures with mood disorders. After discussing the disproportionate number of bipolar disorders those in creative professions statistically have, Jamison asked the audience, “If you medicate a disorder, does that mean you then medicate away creativity?”
Advocating for the Future of the Field
In addition to discussions on creativity, the meeting featured a number of sessions on how advances and innovations in neuroscience have accelerated fundamental understanding of the brain, and why it is important to communicate with legislators and the public about neuroscience research that is leading to better treatment of brain diseases and disorders for millions of people worldwide. At the Global Advocacy Symposium, SfN, IBRO, and FENS came together for the first time to share ideas and strategies. The event focused on how to help communities of all sizes and in any country to design locally tailored advocacy and outreach programs. Outgoing SfN President Larry Swanson kicked off the symposium by encouraging SfN members to promote strong international ties because, he said, “That’s what science is — an international community.”
As the world’s largest meeting focused on scientific discovery related to the brain and nervous system, the event brought to life more than 15,000 scientific presentations showing innovative advances in techniques, and valuable new research about brain structure, health, disease, and treatments. In addition to posters and scientific lectures, the meeting featured 34 professional development workshops and networking functions, and 600 exhibitors.