How the mind makes new ideas: Bending, breaking, blending

How does humanity arrive at great ideas? Simple: we take already great ideas and just arrive at even greater ideas.

How does humanity arrive at great ideas? Well, the natural world is full of amazing ingenuity (thanks, evolution!), including the human mind. When humans perceive natural phenomena like a bird taking flight, we're able to "bend" what we see into an eventual airplane. Neuroscientist and New York Times bestselling author David Eagleman explains how humans also "blend" and "break" things to arrive at new ideas. The examples Eagleman provides starkly illustrate the inventive quality of the human mind. Check out these ideas and more in David's latest book: The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World.

Hits and misses: How neuroscience can boost your creativity

Some say that great ideas come out of thin air. Neuroscientist David Eagleman posits that perhaps all great ideas are simply built upon old ideas, because thats what fuels the creative brain.

"All ideas have a genealogy," says David Eagleman. A writer, neuroscientist, and adjunct professor at Stanford University, he's definitely clued in to what makes ideas click. He posits that the brain craves something new so much that if you give someone the same thing over and over that after a certain amount of time you'll begin to see diminished returns in excitement. But sometimes "new" isn't necessarily new at all. He points out that although the iPhone is a revolutionary product it bears heavy similarity to an invention from IBM... from two decades ago. New ideas tend to be built upon similar ones, David Eagleman says, because "what we’re doing is building on the foundations of what has come before us." David's new book is The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World.

Understanding Creativity: Why Brain Hacks Don't Help

Everyone thinks they know how to make their brain more creative and have better ideas.

People think that their brain is like an iPhone — if they can just unlock it and press a few things in a certain order, then something is sure to happen. That's just not the case, as neuroscientist David Eagleman tells us. While some swear a cold shower helps them think better it's simply a matter of personal preference; what works for one might not work for anyone else. David has a great line: "You don’t have squirrels going to the moon or dogs inventing the internet or cows doing theater plays for one another or any of the gazillion things that we do." Quite frankly, what gets creatvity going the best is actually the most boring: a good diet and regular exercise... but where's the fun (and clickable headline) in that? David's new book is The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World.

How to increase your will power? Make a Ulysses pact with yourself

The only thing between you and your better self is your brain. Programmed to maximize short term reward, we often find ourselves struggling between what we want and what we want to want.

The only thing between you and your better self is your brain. Programmed to maximize short term reward, we often find ourselves struggling between what we want in the moment and what we'll gain in the long term if we forgo immediate gratification. As neuroscientist David Eagleman reveals, the ancient wisdom of Ulysses remains useful today as a way to contextualize current scientific research. Before temptation strikes, it pays to have a plan for when it arrives. By making a contract with your future self—as Ulysses did with his crew—you can avoid occasions of indulgence. And when you do give into immediate satisfaction, you can build in supports to keep it from wreaking havoc on your life.

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