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What Happens Inside An Exceptionally Creative Brain?

A UCLA neuroscientist and Police drummer Stewart Copeland try to find out in this exclusive video.

What Happens Inside An Exceptionally Creative Brain?
[Photos & Video: courtesy of National Geographic Channels]

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Are some folks simply wired for greater creativity?

“There’s been a distinction made between everyday creativity and exceptional creativity, like Picasso and Mozart. Might they use their brains differently?” asks UCLA neuropsychologist Robert Bilder. “There may be aspects of the connectivity between different regions fo the brain that may be higher or more elaborate in people who are [exceptional] creatives.”

To illustrate the point, Bilder borrowed the noggin of Stewart Copeland, best known as the drummer for the Police, to scan in an MRI machine. Turns out, Copeland had a bigger amygdala than most people. Those are regions of the brain associated with emotional expression.

The video let’s viewers compare your creativity to Copeland’s with a simple test—but you gotta watch it to see.

The video is a pre-taped part of National Geographic Channel’s Brain Surgery Live with Mental Floss on October 25, a two-hour event hosted by Bryant Gumbel covering a live deep-brain stimulation surgery at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. The procedure helps treat essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease, and is performed on a fully awake patient able to speak and answer questions. (The content will be available starting Oct. 26 for 35 days on VOD and TV Everywhere platforms, including NatGeoTV.com.)

University Hospitals Case Medical CenterPhoto: Yasaki Photographic, Courtesy of Nat Geo

The show—one of a number addressing the brain this fall—will go live four hours into the surgery to showcase the most educational portions. The video is one of several pre-taped packages to air between operating room updates.

About the author

Susan Karlin is an award-winning journalist in Los Angeles, covering the nexus of science, technology, and arts, with a fondness for sci-fi and comics. She's a regular contributor to Fast Company, NPR, and IEEE Spectrum, and has written for Newsweek, Forbes, Wired, Scientific American, Discover, NY and London Times, and BBC Radio.

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