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Jul 20, 2009

Where Does Your Brain Get Your Ideas?

I think writers are more familiar than anyone with the strange and unpredictable nature of inspiration. Suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, a brilliant idea strikes. You might be awake or dreaming. You have to write it down NOW or you risk losing it.

I've always known the best stories arose out of primordial mental chaos. Now, science has proved it.

Networks of brain cells alternate between periods of calm and periods of instability - "avalanches" of electrical activity that cascade through the neurons. Like real avalanches, exactly how these cascades occur and the resulting state of the brain are unpredictable.

It might seem precarious to have a brain that plunges randomly into periods of instability, but the disorder is actually essential to the brain's ability to transmit information and solve problems.

...and write stories.


Ban said...

nifty :)

Scott said...

So it's not because I'm insanely brilliant? Dang! Who knew somebody would come up with a Theory of Inspiration! Sigh, I feel so normal now!

Interesting (in a good way) post!


J.L. Johnson said...

I've also read that the brain uses night-time to sort out and understand the information it recieved during the day. Maybe that's why many of my ideas come to me through dreams?

scott g.f.bailey said...

"a brain that plunges randomly into periods of instability" is a good way to describe the creative act, I think!

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Love it.

I propose we form a coalition to rename 'brainstorm' as 'brain avalanche'

"Ah ha! What? Oh, don't mind me, I've just had an avalanche. Excuse me, I need to find a pen."

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

so now I cant say "I pull them out of my arse"?? :)

Kathryn Magendie said...

what an interesting post!

Love this line: 'a brain that plunges randomly into periods of instability'

SunTiger said...

Honestly? I feel convinced spirits from the past often talk to us . . . planting those ideas in our head.

Even J.K. Rowling said she saw Harry Potter in SPIRIT (on a train she was riding) . . . that's what inspired her books!

Wendy said...

Not to mention the interconnectedness of all things - I guess that'd be where multiple brains plunge randomly into the same periods of instability. I've just posted about getting an idea and then noticed your post (although written well before my post) and find a scientific explanation!

glovin said...

I've also read that the brain uses night-time to sort out and understand the information it received during the day.

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Anonymous said...

A cluttered brain, like a cluttered room, leads to the instability that fosters creativity...but it takes discipline and sweat to transform inspiration into a work of art.

SunTiger said...

I like what Wendy said about the interconnectedness of all things. Meanwhile: that means we're all connected to Bubba whose romantically pursuing a date with his cousin. {{Shudder the thought.}}

Hey . . . waiting for another fascinating update here [It's the end of September already.]