Your brain on improv

So I am a surgeon who studies creativity, and I have never had a patient tell me that “I really want you to be creative during surgery,” and so I guess there’s a little bit of irony to it. I will say though that, after having done surgery a lot, it’s somewhat similar to playing a musical instrument. And for me, this sort of deep and enduring fascination with sound is what led me to both be a surgeon and also to study the science of sound, particularly music. And so I’m going to try to talk to you over the next few minutes about my career in terms of how I’m able to actually try to study music and really try to grapple with all these questions of how the brain is able to be creative. I’ve done most of this work at Johns Hopkins University, but also at the National Institute of Health where I was previously. I’m going to go over some science experiments and try to cover three musical experiments.

I’m going to start off by playing a video for you. And this video is a video of Keith Jarrett, who’s a well-known jazz improviser and probably the most well-known, iconic example of someone who takes improvisation to a really higher level. And he’ll improvise entire concerts off the top of his head, and he’ll never play it exactly the same way again, and so, as a form of intense creativity, I think this is a great example. And so why don’t we go and click the video…more

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