© 2015

How Creativity Happens in the Brain


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-viii
  2. Arne Dietrich
    Pages 1-12
  3. Arne Dietrich
    Pages 13-39
  4. Arne Dietrich
    Pages 40-65
  5. Arne Dietrich
    Pages 66-92
  6. Arne Dietrich
    Pages 93-115
  7. Arne Dietrich
    Pages 116-138
  8. Arne Dietrich
    Pages 139-162
  9. Arne Dietrich
    Pages 163-183
  10. Arne Dietrich
    Pages 184-207
  11. Back Matter
    Pages 208-230

About this book


How Creativity Happens In The Brain is about the brain mechanisms of creativity, how a grapefruit-sized heap of meat crackling with electricity manages to be so outrageously creative. It has a sharp focus: to stick exclusively to sound, mechanistic explanations and convey what we can, and cannot, say about how brains give rise to creative ideas.


Creativity Flow Brain Mind Consciousness Cognition Emotion Cultural Evolution Prediction Art Neuroscience Phrenology Connectionism Implicit Processing Emulation AI Machine Creativity Task Set Variation-Selection Evolutionary Algorithm artificial intelligence brain cognition consciousness creativity Design emotion evolution evolutionary algorithm Nation neuroscience

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.American University of BeirutLebanon

About the authors

Arne Dietrich is Professor of Psychology at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon.

Bibliographic information


"Once again, Arne Dietrich proves that he is one of the brightest thinkers on the planet. With great insight, clarity and humor, How Creativity Happens In The Brain gives us a much needed breakdown of the neuroscientific hows and whys of creativity. This book is fantastic-a must read!" - Steven Kotler, a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning journalist, and cofounder and director of research for the Flow Genome Project

"In this brilliantly original book, Arne Dietrich ruthlessly demolishes all the nonsense about "left brains" and "divergent thinking," and sets out a bold new theory of creativity. Written with verve and panache, this is a must read for anyone interested in how brains generate new ideas." - Dylan Evans, author of Risk Intelligence and Placebo: Mind over Matter in Modern Medicine

"For those of us getting claustrophobic in the super-heated sauna of pop-culture pontifications on creativity and how to maximize it in our lives, Arne Dietrich's new, groundbreaking book is a welcome, bracing plunge into the icy waters of clear thinking. Dietrich begins with a passionate, neurolingo free de-construction of the multiple theories of creativity prevailing today, including those held in the mostly lofty academic circles. This would be reason enough to make this an important book. But the author goes on to offer a new approach, one that takes seriously the thorough distribution of creativity in the brain and its multifaceted processes. His is an evolutionary paradigm, long familiar from other scholarly domains, with a variation-selection process at its core. Most simply stated: the brain produces (creative) mental models based on predictive processing, tests them, and selects. Dietrich's writing style is both accessible and leavened by a wonderfully wicked sense of humor. All in all, this makes for a great - and transformative - read." Gary Vikan, former Director of the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, USA

'This is a remarkable book, coming from the guy doing the best work on the brain and creativity. Dietrich describes the role of the brain in creativity and clearly identifies what can and cannot be said about the neural basis of creative thinking. He is so right in saying that hundreds of books offer methods and even "results" about creativity, but most of what is available is bunk. It is easy to be misled because many books are written by "brain experts," but most do not know the creativity research. Others are written by creativity experts, but they are not knowledgeable about the brain. This is the first book that draws from both fields, accurately separating the trustworthy from the unreliable. Dietrich identifies what appears to be the central process occurring in the brain that leads to creative behavior ("ideational combination"). He accomplishes a great deal, and yet does it while minimizing impenetrable neurolingo and cumbersome academese. If you are interested in reliable information about the brain and creativity, this book is for you.' - Mark Runco, Editor, Creativity Research Journal