University of Iowa News Release
Jan. 18, 2006
UI Psychiatry Professor Andreasen Reads From 'The Creating Brain'
University of Iowa Professor of Psychiatry Nancy Andreasen, an expert in the field of human creativity, will read from her new book, "The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius," at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910.
The broadcast will originate in a free event hosted by Julie Englander in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen on the Internet at wsui.uiowa.edu.
A National Medal of Science winner, Andreasen is the Andrew H. Woods Chair of Psychiatry in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and the director of the Iowa Mental Health Clinical Research Center of UI Health Care, which is working to understand the causes of schizophrenia and develop better treatments.
In "The Creating Brain" she addresses questions including: Where does the unique originality we call "creativity" come from, can anybody be creative, and what causes some people to make astonishingly creative contributions? Andreasen explores how the human brain achieves creative breakthroughs -- in art, literature, music and science -- the role of genes and environment, extraordinary creativity vs. ordinary creativity, the value of not having a "standard education," and the question of "genius and insanity."
Her examples run from Mozart and Coleridge to comic playwright Neil Simon, and she shows how her studies of participants in the Iowa Writers' Workshop and other evidence suggest that, while creativity often may be inherited and may sometimes be associated with mental disorders, neither is inevitable or necessary for creativity to flourish.
Former Writers' Workshop faculty member Kurt Vonnegut responded, "Our leading authority on creativity reveals herself with this splendid book as one of the most valuably creative persons of our time." And best-selling author David Morrell, also a former UI faculty member, commented, "I've been a novelist for 37 years and suddenly I understand myself better. Nancy Andreasen's 'The Creating Brain' is a fascinating journey in to 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."
A review in the journal Nature observed, "Andreasen writes with clarity and ease, interspersing personal and scientific opinion. She makes wonderful connections between the arts and sciences, which surely spring from her background in literature. And she provides a succinct overview of diverse fields of investigation, as well as providing a perspective that reaches beyond the usual approaches to understanding the relationship between creativity and the brain."
Andreasen is also the author "The Broken Brain," "Brave New Brain: Conquering Mental Illness in the Era of the Genome" and "Understanding mental illness: A layman's guide," and the editor of numerous other volumes. She is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Psychiatric Association.
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