Published December 2022 on YouTube

The Science of Creativity & How to Enhance Creative Innovation | Huberman Lab Podcast 103

1. Creativity

Andrew discusses the neural structures that underlie creativity and how to access them in order to come up with new ideas. He introduces open monitoring meditations as a tool to tap into specific circuits within the frontal networks of the brain, allowing individuals to evaluate new and novel rule sets in an unconstrained way. By the end of the episode, listeners will have a better understanding of what creativity is and how to access it in different domains of life.+

2. ROKA, Thesis, LMNT, Momentous

Performance Eyewear:Andrew discusses the importance of eyewear in performance and introduces ROKA, a brand that understands the adaptations required for clear vision. He also highlights the unique features of ROKA's eyewear, including their lightweight design and various aesthetic styles. Listeners can use the code Huberman to save 20% off their order on
Electrolytes and Neurons:Andrew explains the importance of electrolytes for the proper functioning of neurons and the body. He recommends LMNT, an electrolyte drink that provides the necessary sodium, magnesium, and potassium in the correct ratios without sugar.+

3. What is Creativity?

Andrew discusses the concept of creativity and how it involves combining existing rule sets in a novel way that reveals something fundamental about the world. He explains that novelty alone is not enough for something to be considered creative, and that truly creative acts surprise and delight us by revealing something new and fundamental that we weren't aware of before.+

4. Art and Perception

Creative Artistic Acts:Andrew explains the difference between an accurate representation of a face and a painting like an Escher, which captures elements from the outside world and faithfully represents them in a repetitive manner. He discusses how our visual system eliminates repetitive patterns and only allows us to see things that are unusual in our visual environment.+
The Brain and Creative Acts:Andrew discusses how visual art reveals fundamental rules about how the brain works. He uses examples from Escher and Banksy to show how repetition is suppressed in our visual system and unusual visual features are revealed to us. The key element of truly creative acts is that they capture our attention and reveal these fundamental rules.+
Banksy's Art:Andrew discusses Banksy's unique approach to urban art by combining two-dimensional art with a three-dimensional landscape, creating a concept that pops out at the viewer. He uses the example of a dog lifting its leg to urinate on a fire hydrant to explain how our brain encodes concepts and entire stories as symbols of interaction between different objects.+
Art and Perception:Andrew discusses how art can reveal the brain's ability to encode things in two and three dimensions, and how this affects our perception of color and music. He uses examples such as Banksy's controversial painting and Rothko's color on canvas to demonstrate how art can provide insight into the brain's processing of visual information.+
Novelty in Music:Andrew discusses how our auditory system and neural circuits encode information in music. He emphasizes that when we hear known elements in new ways, it changes the way our neural circuits function and releases chemicals like dopamine. This makes us feel surprised, delighted, and excited in anticipation of hearing it again.+

5. Neural Circuits of Creativity

Neural Circuits of Creativity:Andrew explains the three major neural circuits involved in the creative process, starting with the executive network responsible for governing our thinking and behavior in deliberate ways. He emphasizes the importance of thinking about creativity as a verb and breaks down the steps required to arrive at something truly creative.+
Imagination and Suppression:Andrew explains the two networks of the brain that are responsible for imagination and suppression. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for suppressing actions while the default mode network is responsible for engaging in spontaneous imagination.+
Creativity Circuits:Andrew explains the three circuits in the brain that are responsible for creativity: executive, default mode, and salience. He emphasizes that creativity is a rearrangement of existing elements into novel combinations that reveal something fundamental about how we or the world works and that it tends to be things that are useful.+

6. AG1 (Athletic Greens)

Andrew discusses the benefits of Athletic Greens, a vitamin mineral probiotic drink that covers all of your foundational nutritional needs. He explains how it helps with gut health and provides optimal and vital probiotics for microbiome health. Additionally, he mentions that it contains adaptogens, vitamins, and minerals that make sure all of his foundational nutritional needs are met.+

7. Two Elements of Creativity

The Two Elements:Andrew explains that creativity involves two elements: divergent thinking and convergent thinking. Divergent thinking is the ability to see a known object or concept in multiple ways, which is crucial for generating creative ideas.+
Divergent Thinking:Andrew explains how divergent thinking involves taking one element and coming up with many answers, and how it's the process that underlies idea generation. He also emphasizes that more than one idea is correct, and the more ideas you have about one thing, the better your divergent thinking.+
Divergent Thinking:Andrew explains the concept of divergent thinking, which involves generating multiple options without constraints and exploring different ideas. He emphasizes the importance of having basic building blocks and foraging for information to be truly creative. Divergent thinking largely taps into the networks of the brain that are involved in mental flexibility, which is a different aspect of our prefrontal cortex.+

8. Creativity and Convergent Thinking

Andrew explains that creativity is not just about novel combinations, but it's about discovering fundamental rules. He also discusses convergent thinking, which involves combining different things to come up with a single answer that makes sense in the real world. Convergent thinking requires more focus and persistence compared to divergent thinking, and it relies on distinct brain circuits.+

9. The Power of Dopamine

The Power of Dopamine:Andrew explains how dopamine, a molecule associated with motivation and pleasure, is responsible for both divergent and convergent thinking through separate brain networks. Understanding how to engage these pathways can provide tools for exploring and testing creative ideas.+
Understanding Dopamine:Andrew explains the role of dopamine in motivation, desire, and movement. He also discusses the link between action elements within a narrative and creativity. Additionally, he describes the four major circuits in the brain that use dopamine.+
Neural Circuitry:Andrew discusses the importance of the nigrostriatal pathway, a neural circuit that relies on dopamine to engage movement and generate bodily and eye movements. This brain area is also engaged during divergent thinking, a process that involves taking a concept and thinking about other concepts that could link up with it in some way.+
The Dopamine Circuit:Andrew explains the two dopamine circuits associated with creativity: the nigrostriatal circuit for divergent thinking and the mesocortical pathway for convergent thinking. He emphasizes the importance of motivation and emotion in the latter circuit for focus and persistence.+

10. InsideTracker

Andrew talks about the importance of regular blood work and introduces InsideTracker, a personalized nutrition platform that analyzes data from your blood and DNA to help you better understand your body and reach your health goals. He explains how InsideTracker makes it easy for you to understand what interventions you might want to take on in order to adjust the numbers of metabolic factors, hormones, lipids, and other things that impact your immediate and long-term health.+

11. Enhancing Creative Thinking

Enhancing Creative Thinking:Andrew shares tools from scientific literature that have been shown to enhance divergent and convergent thinking, both of which are critical for the creative process. He emphasizes the importance of engaging in both types of thinking, regardless of natural ability or upbringing, and explains how memory systems in the brain play a crucial role in generating novel ideas.+
Enhancing Divergent Thinking:Andrew discusses the benefits of open monitoring meditation for enhancing divergent thinking. Suppressing memory and practicing nonjudgment can help generate new narratives and ideas. Focused attention meditation can also enhance convergent thinking.+
Open Monitoring Meditation:Andrew discusses the benefits of open monitoring meditation, a form of perception where you pay attention to your thoughts without judgment. He explains how practicing this type of meditation can improve divergent thinking capabilities and activate dopamine circuits in the brain. Andrew encourages listeners to dedicate just a few minutes every other day to this practice to enhance their creativity.Show transcript +

12. Meditation for Creativity

Andrew explains how meditation can improve both convergent and divergent thinking, which are the two elements of creativity. He suggests a dual meditation of open monitoring and focused attention for those who want to improve both types of thinking. Regular practice of these meditations can lead to significant improvements in creativity.+

13. Mood, Creativity & Dopamine

Mood and Creativity:Andrew discusses how mood affects creativity and the relationship between mood and dopamine levels in the brain. He explains how dopamine impacts divergent and convergent thinking and shares non-pharmacological ways to enhance dopamine levels for better creativity. The chapter also covers the relationship between blinking, mood, and creativity in divergent thinking.+
Mood and Divergent Thinking:Andrew explains how being in a good mood can facilitate divergent thinking, while too high levels of dopamine can hinder it. He also discusses how bipolar disorder and drug use can impact divergent thinking.+

14. Boosting Creativity

Mood and Creativity:Andrew explains how dopamine levels affect creativity and how external stimuli can elevate mood to improve divergent thinking. He also discusses the importance of being aware of one's mood and whether external stimuli are necessary or detrimental to the creative process.+
Boosting Creativity:Andrew explains how caffeine affects creativity and when to use it. He suggests avoiding caffeine before divergent thinking and using it before convergent thinking. He also shares his personal experience with abstaining from caffeine during bouts of work and ingesting it before structuring everything.+
Boosting Creativity:Andrew shares insights on how to access divergent thinking and boost creativity. He discusses the importance of assessing one's mood to determine whether to increase dopamine or not. He also suggests using safe and legal tools, such as caffeine, to enhance performance.+

15. Boosting Dopamine

Dopamine Technology:Andrew explains that current technology does not allow for selective amplification of dopamine in one specific pathway. Taking supplements or drugs that increase dopamine levels will affect all four dopaminergic pathways in the brain.+
Boosting Dopamine:Andrew discusses legal and safe ways to increase dopamine levels, including non-prescription approaches like L-Tyrosine and caffeine, as well as prescription drugs like Ritalin and Adderall. He also mentions the importance of close supervision by a skilled psychiatrist when taking these drugs. Additionally, Andrew talks about the role of nutrition in increasing dopamine levels, such as consuming foods high in L-Tyrosine.+

16. Boosting Creativity

Boosting Creativity:Andrew discusses a nonpharmacological tool that can increase dopamine and enhance creativity. This tool is purely behavioral and can be explored safely without any cost. He talks about a landmark study that explores the association between a naturally released chemical and a particular quality of conscious experience.+
Meditation and Dopamine:Andrew discusses a study on the effects of meditation on dopamine levels in the brain. He clarifies that the meditation used in the study is actually a form of self-directed relaxation, and explains the brain state of being deeply relaxed yet aware and motionless.+
Deep Relaxation and Dopamine:Andrew discusses a study that shows how self-directed deep relaxation can lead to a 65% increase in dopamine release and an increase in theta activity, which is associated with creative states and divergent thinking. The study also highlights the importance of reducing bodily movement to increase visual imagery.+
Boosting Divergent Thinking:Andrew explains how deep relaxation while awake and being relatively motionless can enhance divergent thinking and creative ability. This practice is associated with a 65% increase in dopamine release and should be done for at least 20-30 minutes once a week.+
Enhancing Creativity:Andrew shares how practicing NSDR or yoga nidra can increase dopamine in the nigrostriatal pathway, which can enhance divergent thinking and creativity. The practice sets a dopaminergic tone and prepares the brain for creative exploration that can occur in the hour or hours that follow.+

17. Enhancing Creativity

Enhancing Creativity:Andrew discusses the limitations of pharmacology in selectively increasing dopamine for creativity and introduces a study on the role of serotonin in divergent and convergent thinking. He then explores the potential of microdosing psilocybin to enhance activation of the serotonergic pathways associated with creativity, but cautions that it is still illegal in most areas of the world.+
Microdosing for Creativity:Andrew discusses the effects of microdosing psilocybin on creativity, citing a study that shows an increase in divergent thinking ability. He emphasizes the need for caution with pharmacology due to its broadband effects and suggests that behavioral tools should come first. He provides a link to the study for those interested in exploring microdosing further.+

18. Alcohol and Cannabis Creativity

Andrew discusses the effects of alcohol and cannabis on creativity. While low doses of alcohol can suppress the forebrain and enhance divergent thinking, there is no evidence that alcohol increases creativity. High THC cannabis can lead to enhanced divergent thinking, but often cannot be implemented into a coherent framework for creative endeavors.+

19. ADHD and Creativity

Andrew explains the relationship between ADHD and creativity, highlighting that people with ADHD can have excellent novel and creative ideas but may struggle with convergent thinking. He suggests exploring rational pharmacology, nutrition, and supplementation to enhance convergent thinking and mentions the episode on ADHD and focus for tools to enhance it.+

20. Movement and Thinking

Movement and Divergent Thinking:Andrew discusses the relationship between physical movement and divergent thinking, citing studies that show people are able to engage in divergent thinking more effectively when they are doing things like pacing or walking. He shares his personal experience of having his best ideas while on a long run or hike and explains how movement engages the nigrostriatal pathways and allows for the intersection of different ideas, leading to new possibilities about ways that information could be combined and implemented.+
Enhancing Divergent Thinking:Andrew explains that engaging in certain forms of movement, such as walking and pacing, can activate neural networks that are not normally communicating with each other. This can enhance divergent thinking, but it's important to note that basic skills and knowledge in a particular domain must be built up through training.+

21. Enhancing Creativity

Enhancing Creativity:Andrew discusses the parallel literature related to enhancing creativity through narrative theory, which is an alternate pathway to divergent thinking. Narrative theory is a breakthrough finding that explores other ways to access creativity and generate novel ideas that are useful.+
Enhancing Creativity:Andrew Huberman discusses the three elements of world building, perspective shifting, and action generating that make up the narrative approach to enhancing creativity. He explains how this approach dates back to Aristotle and how it has been used in various contexts to enhance different forms of creativity.+
Creative Perspective:Andrew discusses the three elements of creativity, including perspective shifting techniques that involve taking the perspective of someone else's underlying motivation, which captures a whole set of neural circuits and dictates a huge number of possible different outcomes.+
Creative Collisions:Andrew explains how to create creative collisions by taking on the motivation of someone else and forcing collaboration between individuals with different motivations. He emphasizes the importance of thinking outside of our usual framework and creating a bounded alternate universe to come up with novel concepts.+
The Neuroscience of Creativity:Andrew discusses the neural circuits underlying creativity, including divergent and convergent thinking, and how narrative building can reawaken childhood creativity. He also highlights the importance of utility in creativity and how it reveals something fundamental about the world.+

22. Supporting the Huberman Lab

Andrew Huberman shares ways to support the Huberman Lab podcast, including subscribing, leaving reviews, and checking out their sponsors. He also mentions the high-quality Momentous supplements they've partnered with and provides a link for listeners to purchase them.+