The Brain and Creativity

It is a common misconception that left-brained thinkers are more logical and better at mathematics while right-brained thinkers are creative and artistic. The information that your left eye receives does not just go to the left or right side of the brain where it is connected either.

http://www.webmd.com/brain/picture-of-the-brain
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In reality the left side and the right side work simultaneously. It is true that different areas of the brain are responsible for particular functions, and damage to areas of the brain can effect their ability to function properly.  If we are going to separate the brain into it’s functional areas, it would be more accurate to describe the lobes of the brain and their functions.

The frontal lobe, parietal lobe, occipital lobe, and temporal lobe are responsible for problem solving, motor function, judgement, sensation, body position, memory, hearing, and visual processing. Just as we generally have two arms and two legs, we also have a left and a right hemisphere of each lobe. Excitatory and inhibitory Neurotransmitters send signals throughout the body and control their processes. Alcohol, for example, effects neurotransmitters and their influence on the chemical signals to the brain and body which causes what we know as a drunken state.

The entire brain is responsible for the creative process. As with anything, the only way to get better at something is to practice. Seeing impressive artwork and thinking that you wish you could do that is an excuse not to try. The best artists are practicing all the time. They constantly doodle, paint, play music, build things, brainstorm, and learn from other artists. I’m not saying that all painters can play music, but whatever their media is, they work on it every day for years; Not every song is a hit, and not every painting is a masterpiece.

http://news.stanford.edu/news/2013/march/brain-activity-map-031113.html
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The talent for art exists because the brain has the ability to learn and adapt. Our muscles strengthen as we use them and our fine motor skills are refined with use. It is the same for what we consider to be logical fields such as mathematics and science. The more the brain works through the process, the easier it is to recall information that we can use to be excellent in any field. If you want to be able to do something and do it well, the only thing that is stopping you is you.

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Using Art to Learn Human Anatomy and Physiology

Anatomy and physiology are not the easiest subjects, but the learning process can be assisted with the help of art. We retain more information if we write it down, so it makes sense that drawing or coloring will help us learn the anatomy and physiology of the human body. Being able to say what an organ is and being able to point it out in an actual human body are very different experiences. What it is, what it does, how blood flows through it, where it is, and what it is connected to are fundamental to understanding how the human body works. One of my favorite tools is a human anatomy coloring book.

http://www.pearsonhighered.com/educator/product/Anatomy-Coloring-Book-The/9780805350869.page
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When learning how to draw the human figure, we consulted anatomy books to accurately portray the human form. The ability to use anatomy in an artistic piece can really make a difference. Anatomical body painting has allowed us to design disturbingly realistic tattoos that look like muscle is exposed. Applicable possibilities include special effects and costumes that can seem gruesomely real. To create that effect, an understanding of anatomy is key.

In an actual corpse the muscles, veins, and organs are not as easy to decipher as a coloring book or picture from an anatomy book. There is no substitute for the real thing when it comes to the human body because of variation and disease, but artistic renditions can help students visualize anatomy before they get to the laboratory. Anyone that has studied anatomy and physiology knows how complex the human body is, and veterinary students need to learn it across species.

http://public.media.smithsonianmag.com/legacy_blog/Facial-dissection-Danny-Quirk.jpg
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There is an opportunity to see human anatomy at an event in the U.S. called “Bodies: The Exhibition“. These are real human bodies that have been preserved using a polymer so that they can be used for education. Certain health issues are highlighted in the exhibition such as cancer, ectopic pregnancy, osteoporosis, and cirrhosis of the liver. Not only is this exhibition a great learning experience for medical students, but artists as well.

Another great way to learn human anatomy is by using flashcards that have been artistically designed so that they components are easier to decipher.

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Exploring connections between two worlds

I was taught growing up that art was a hobby and not a real career choice. Math and science, I was told, are the paths to success in the real world. Those are the subjects that I was allowed to pursue growing up and my love for art was just a hobby. I could not ignore my need for art in the world, so I attempted to indulge as much as possible. Over time I realized that art is in everything. It is more than a pretty picture, a vase, or a song. My world was never absent from art, I just did not realize how much I was surrounded by it.Slide 1

I started playing the violin when I was only four years old. It was one of the few outlets I had to express myself and explore my creativity. Still, I found it was more related to mathematics than I initially thought. Time signatures, Rhythms, beats, counting, and keys are tools that make music fluent and appealing. Without structure in these areas the sound is chaos and not pleasing to listen to.

I chose pursue a career based in science after taking human anatomy in college. It was a difficult course, but I was enthralled. Studying for it came naturally because I loved the subject matter. I was no longer forcing myself to learn something because I had to, I was learning something that truly interested me. Studying included painting, coloring, drawing, and mapping the human body. Each one of us is our own piece of art; nature’s artwork.Slide 2

The world beneath a microscope is beautiful and fascinating. Something as simple as a section of human tissue stained with hematoxylin and eosin allows us to see specific structures unique to that structure. There are many different types of stains which result in a different staining pattern based on the method used. Understanding how those methods work allow us to utilize tissue staining to cure and treat disease.

I am bridging the gap between the art and science worlds. I hope that you will see, as I have, that the gap does not truly exist. The misconception that they are separate entities can be snuffed out once we open our minds and our eyes to the world around us. There is an art to science and there is science in every piece of art.

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