The Neuroscience of Creativity: A Gestalt Perspective

  • Todd Burley


It is common to look for the roots of creativity in some aspect of the individual. We assume that the creative person must have a unique characteristic or characteristics unavailable to others. Usually these characteristics are sought in reductionist versions of personality theory, intellect and more recently, in some aspect of the neuroscience revolution. Unlike other theories of psychotherapy and personality, Gestalt theory takes the field as its basic unit of observation. By field, Gestaltists mean that the whole context or ecosystem of which the person and his or her neuropsychological system is a part or portion works as one, and that it is impossible and misleading to try to understand and observe a person “apart from” the field of which they are a portion. Paradoxically, the way we know the field or “about” the field is through a person’s contact with other aspects of the field, which gives rise to awareness and, from a neurocognitive perspective, awareness (Damasio, 1999) and experience, or one’s personal phenomenology. Thus the creative person’s neurological and neuropsychological makeup, from a Gestalt perspective, is a part or portion of the field. Creativity is a field phenomenon and, as we shall see, neuroscience leads away from reductionistic explanations and clarifies the concept of creativity as a field phenomenon.


Frontal Lobe Left Hemisphere Left Temporal Lobe Reductionistic Explanation Creative Person 
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  • Todd Burley

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