Jens Langner

Creativity is a key ingredient of both science and art, but how much can scientific inquiry tell us about creativity?

“Science can study creativity, but creativity is also central to the scientific process; it is useful to understand both directions of this interaction,” says SFI Chair of Faculty Jennifer Dunne, who co-organized a July 2014 working group with Bill O’Brien and Sunil Iyengar of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Read the Bill O'Brien's top five takeaways from the gathering in (July 31, 2014)

Hear Bill O'Brien's interview on the Santa Fe Radio Cafe (26 minutes, July 9, 2014)

The two-day gathering July 9 and 10, “The Nature of Creativity in the Brain,” was the first formal collaboration between SFI and NEA. The group examined creativity through the lenses of cognitive science, psychology, education, defense, healthcare, the arts, and neuroscience.

“There is mounting interest in these themes that spills out across different sectors and populations,” says O’Brien. “If we’re really trying to understand the brain, what can we learn from the nature of creativity? From an evolutionary standpoint, why is it here? From a psychological standpoint, how does it behave? From the point of view of artists, how does it feel?”

The organizers hope such discussions will point to future directions for more focused research into creativity, and to identify questions SFI scientists and other researchers might pursue using computational and other approaches.

“We are looking for different kinds of deep synergies that can come about from integrating art, science, and technology under the broad topic of creativity in the brain,” says Dunne. “Though SFI is a science institute, we are very broad in terms of studying complex systems, so it’s a perfect place to bring together this amazing, diverse group of scientists and artists.”

More about the working group here