Eric Kandel: Creativity, Your Brain, and the Aha! Moment

Eric Kandel: Creativity, Your Brain, and the Aha! Moment

Leonardo, for one, spent a fair amount of
time dissecting human cadavers because he wanted to know how the various bones related
to one each other and how the muscles related to the bones. So he wanted to have a realistic
understanding of the human anatomy because he was depicting real live people sitting,
gesturing, walking, and he wanted to get this as absolutely correct as possible.
In order to understand how the body functions, we need to know something about the anatomy
of the body, it’s sort of obvious.The more we want to depict the mind, the more it helps
to understand the mind, and one way to understand the mind is to understanding the brain. So
it is conceivable that as we get deeper and deeper insights into the mind, artists will
get ideas about how combinations of stimuli affect, for example, emotional states that
will allow them to depict those emotional states better. 

But in addition, we’re
beginning to get in very, very primitive terms, some insights into the nature of creativity.
Hughling Jackson, the great neurologist in the 19th century, thought that the left hemisphere
is involved in language. We know this is true. And the left hemisphere is primarily involved
in logical processes, calculation, mathematics, rational thinking. The right hemisphere, he
thought, is more involved with musicality, which is true. The sing-song in my language
comes from the right hemisphere, the grammar and the articulation comes from my left hemisphere.
Okay? So he thought that the right hemisphere is more involved in musicality in, you know,
synthesis, putting things together and an aspect of creativity. And he felt that the
two hemispheres inhibit one another. So if you have lesions of the left hemisphere, that
removes the inhibitory constraint on the right hemisphere and frees up certain processes.
And he found that certain kids that develop later in life, let’s say, later in their
teens, aphasia, a language difficulty; it freed up in them a musicality which they didn’t
have before. 

People have returned to that more recently in the analysis of a dementia
called Frontotemporal Dementia. Frontotemporal Dementia is a dementia somewhat similar to
Alzheimer’s disease, it actually begins earlier, that primarily affects the temporal
lobe of the brain and the front lobe of the brain. If it’s only expressed on the left
side, people with Frontotemporal Dementia begin to show creativity that they’ve never
shown before. So if you were painting before, you might start, if you develop Frontotemporal
Dementia on the left side, to use colors that you’ve never used before to try forms that
you’ve never used before. If you never painted before, you might take up painting for the
first time. So this is really quite unusual. 

There are also a group of people who
have studied aspects of creativity. I can give you a problem that can be solved in one
of two ways, systematically working your way through it or putting it together, take a
guess, an Aha Phenomenon. And they found that when people do it in a sort of creative way,
the Aha Phenomenon, there is a particular area in the right side of the brain that lights
up. And they show this not only with imaging, but also with electrophysiological recording.

So this is really quite interesting. You have a number of sort of indirect, not
the most compelling evidence in the world, the Aha Phenomenon is well-documented, but
it’s only a component of creativity. Number of suggestions, there are aspects of the right
hemisphere that might be involved in creativity. But look, as we have been saying all along,
we are at a very early stage in understanding higher mental processes, so it’s amazing
we know anything about creativity, but this is certainly – we are heading into an era
in which one can really get very, very good insights into it and the kinds of situations
that lead to increased creativity… you know, is group think productive? Does it lead to
great – greater creativity or does it inhibit individual creativity? Lots of these questions
are being explored, both from a social psychological and from a biological point of view.


  • Sean Cooke says:

    I am a very logical person, I am a newly qualified engineer and I love every to do with Maths and Science, but I am also very musical at the same time, I find this is very common among my engineering peers is there something linking musicality and logic in the brain ?
    Also, I am left handed (but I do a lot with my right hand…throwing catching, using knives, playing sports), could this be linked ?.

  • KalElKryptonsFinest says:

    I am not sure what you mean, I was just taking the piss out of the previous commentor.

  • zaxey says:

    I am also left-handed and becoming a computer engineer, but I have always played sports rights handed, used a wrench right handed, etc. I'm also a percussionist and have great musical comprehension. weird.

  • Ragnarockalypse says:

    Apologize to him and you'll feel much better about yourself.

  • KalElKryptonsFinest says:

    Sorry, dude. Just kidding…

    Nah, Rag, it didn't work. That must mean my karmic debt is too great, I am truly lost!:-[

  • Ragnarockalypse says:

    Karma is just magical thinking.

  • brianduck1 says:

    i like the part where he talked

  • Preston Sheppard says:

    Ignoring the fact that you don't know how to spell, and assuming you consider not ageing immortality, we could not just splice our DNA together with an immortal jellyfish. This, if you get by just how ridiculous it sounds, makes no sense. Just because we combine our DNA with a species that can revert back to its polyp state does not mean we would then be able to turn back into our polyp state (of which we have none) and then continue on living. We in case you didn't notice are not jelly fish.

  • SoshiHogosha4 says:

    If Scarlett Johansson could pull off writing a single chapter in the best Neuroscience book in the world to this day (Principles of Neural Science), she would definitely earn my respect hands down. I just wanted the other fellow to realize his logic towards Jewish people is irrelevant. I've done research papers about Dr. Kandel's work, so it really pisses me off (probably a lot more than other people here) when they talk like that about someone that has made such huge contributions to medicine.

  • thebandwagoneer says:

    dat bowtie

  • thebandwagoneer says:

    does anyone know what the puzzle he mentioned is?

  • Shawn says:

    or picked the name first.

  • Brandon Speagle says:

    The 7 factors of aging have been determined and will slowly be reversed over the next 50-100 years. If your under 30 right now and you live in a developed country, you have a chance of experiencing several hundred years of life.

  • Anthony Alexander says:

    I love everything about bigthink, thank you for your efforts guys!

  • Tom Hampson says:

    You and me both.

  • cromagnon01 says:

    That bow tie!!!

  • Taha Shaheen says:

    OMG ….. Thanks anyway

  • TheKirger says:

    I find this intresting but in the end what does it matter to know all this stuff -_-

  • KalElKryptonsFinest says:

    Another conversation, heh.

  • SteamerElgin says:

    this is totally new information for me..thank you for the talk about frontal lobe dementia

  • Jordan says:

    Having knowledge is your most powerful weapon. To quote Family Guy… "CAUSE KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!!"

  • Preston Sheppard says:

    its just ironic how you tell me to do research and then turn around and spell something wrong. The least you can do is search the word when the red line comes up under it.
    your second point:
    i am very aware that it is possible for us to reverse aging, but it is no where near as simple as you make it sound and would not involve splicing our genes together with another animal. Splicing only works within ones species. We could however, genetically modify ourselves. hope that clears things up

  • Jay Young says:

    He definitely sounds like that guy from the mobster movies..

  • Definitelysome1 says:

    Big generalization there mate and why is it relevant, your information is as useful as a used tampon.

  • Jay LeCavalier says:

    Are you a caveman? You sound like you were born under a rock.

  • gforce20001 says:

    Some individuals excel in solitary, others might dwindle. Within groups, the opposing perspectives of the members are continually processing the ideas of others through their own mental schemata. It appears as if one should become more creative in groups due to the sheer amount of aspects they themselves didn't think of. But at that point, it becomes a number game.

  • melancholiac says:

    Excellent point and a paradox that needs resolving.

  • kree1964 says:

    I think he's "human" actually…

  • Phillip Ryman says:

    Bow ties are cool because of Bill Nye.

  • 13wolfmoon says:

    SO WHAT?

  • Patched 87 says:

    this guy won the Nobel Prize purely on the way he speaks and dresses

  • Heeze Worthy says:

    Very interesting, I think I might be one!!

  • LordOfTheDolls says:

    this guy has huge ears and he is boring.

  • kevin christy says:

    of course yes sir! liked this very much but i believe your too concerned with the creative right side as apposed to the rational thinking left side, math. did also like the aphasia moment. as the brilliant neurologist that U r R u willing to evaluate Ur self. R u math or art. i think Ur lacking in math skills and R u able to say so for those that come after U. i'm really hoping Ur going to do a follow up to this very real big think.
    slayerwulfe cave

  • kevin christy says:

    plz U tube R the top comments, the top comments or R u trying to out the Yahoo commentary
    slayerwulfe cave

  • Cesar Cavalcanti says:

    is this the 6 flags guy?

  • kmarinas86 says:

    Word. Truly, standard deviations and such are under-looked and/or under-reported in such brain studies. People tend to judge by averages rather than possibilities.

  • Utsusemi says:

    You're boring.

  • maciu bez says:

    ja tu od scifuna jakiś polak tu być???

  • Lee Ann Steinmetz says:

    This is a very informative video. Thank you.

  • TheScientistA4 says:

    I would venture a guess that group interactions actually stifle creativity to some degree. We become much more of a "hive mind" in groups. The existence of nationalism, religion, etc., largely stems from this hive mind. In order for the exchange of ideas in groups to be really productive, each individual needs to understand that their view may be wrong. But of course, who wants to admit to being wrong?

  • Duncan Hunter says:

    I love this channel and vlog brothers!

  • Michael Sprawson says:

    Ah yes, the aha! moment. There is evidence of this as the humorist delivers the main point of his joke, whereupon, as it "clicks" with the audience, there is this spontaneous aha! moment on FAST FORWARD, as in, aha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!

  • Andy H says:

    Yes I agree, so why don't the Elite shadow government stop using T.V to brainwash children. C.F.R And Illuminati controlling Hollywood and the media news, and the pathetic pyramid symbols and satanism in our music. Everyone is waking up to government brainwashing and the destruction of christianity.l

  • Maurovskie says:

    i like bow ties.

  • Tor says:

    Have you truly thunk really huge till you viewed me wee vid
    "The Origin of Jesus Christ"?

  • Anthony Alexander says:

    I could not be any more uninterested in any tales of Jesus.

  • David Downey says:

    I don't think you can argue, a case for "group think leads to greater creativity"; the only thing it does do from everything I've read, is makes people feel more involved.

  • Nick. D says:

    Professor Farnsworth!

  • Tor says:

    If I titled a video "The Origin of Spiderman" do you THINK it would be about
    Spiderman ORRRRRRR Stan Lee?

  • Anthony Alexander says:

    It would all depend on the context. Generally it would be that of Spiderman's origin as he is the protagonist.

  • LillianR says:


  • booAHHHH says:

    what is dementier?

  • booAHHHH says:

    if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all. You're ugly.

  • Anthony Alexander says:

    you are both cool and witty…

  • Tom Perry says:

    ARE YOU TIRED OF GOING TO WORK EVERYDAY??? WHY NOT TRY ONLINE JOB….as seen on cnn,foxnews and nbc.
    my roomate's mom makes $71 hourly on the internet. She has been out of work for 5? months but last month
    her paycheck was $7233 just working on the internet for a few hours. Go to this web site and read more…

    c( )py L I= N K to Your B R( )W SE R

  • LivThePilot Music says:

    soo….. i need a shrink? lol

  • SoshiHogosha4 says:

    If you are interested, I recommend you sign up for Coursera's free course in Neuroscience. I already saw Dr. Segev's videos and they are fantastic! This is the age of the brain.

  • Tor says:

    You didn't get an A+ in reading comprehension, did ya?

  • Anthony Alexander says:

    My academics are not in question Tor. It's my tolerance for people with mental issues that is waning. I'm sure it's hard for you to comprehend, but people generally don't like to expend efforts deciphering the ramblings of others. Reading comprehension assumes that what you have written is comprehensible, which is not the case. Spare me your snarky little quips. In this array of people's unsolicited opinions your "unique perspective" is but another insignificant speck of sand in a mountain of bs

  • Jungle Jargon says:

    Aha! Objects did not make us!
    Our Maker is supernatural because no physical thing is able to significally sequence the written directives that make us!

  • Tor says:

    Let us review…question posed…question said to have never existed…..hummmmmmmm, as I stated, no A+ in reading comprehension.
    However I do hope you'll begin treating yourself with more tolerance
    Bertrand Russell once spake thus, "I'll have the Darjeeling, please."

  • SoshiHogosha4 says:

    You are totally welcome. I am currently doing a literature review on the biochemistry of memory, and Dr. Kandel's work is a pivotal point in it. Any questions (or if you find anything interesting as well) feel free to share. =)

  • WOWCruiser says:

    Does it means getting stupider = getting smarter?

  • RobuJohnson says:

    Learn about over thinking

  • DarthDefiler says:

    I bet this dude has a pocket full of hard candy….not a metaphor.

  • John Doe says:

    how do I sprout lesions in my left hemisphere (srs)

    I wanna be a music producer :]

  • Swanny says:

    Very interesting

  • Niaaal says:

    A study of group creativity finds evidence of a curvilinear effect: Having more narcissists is better for generating creative outcomes (but having too many provides diminishing returns).

  • Marco Valenchino says:


  • straightforward says:

    "Group Think" sucks! Brainstorming is great, but each individual must be able to shine in their own way. When we rely on a group to form our creativity, we have lost our … Oh! LOL! This IS "group think"! I was just about to write about what I thought, but then I worried about what people would THINK about what I thought. Then…I encountered a problem. There's the problem with "group think." 😉

  • John Doe says:

    Bach has spoken x)

  • Shean Crane says:

    Don't you find that terribly interesting? It means that if one does not work in a solitary manner, their ideas are not their own. Humans — connected in ways that they will never know.

  • The Real MacLean says:

    six flags

  • Smuggles says:

    I could honestly listen to this guy talk about us as humans and the mind all day!

  • Cacooler says:

    That's a great point. Our comments create the group think collective, and will ultimately end up steering others in the groups general direction and a few in a direction of dissent and be in the minority usually as well. Group think really does not allow people to think for themselves, but really creates more of a collective of mostly like sounding ideas. In your comment you may be the dissenter in this group, but were to afraid to share. Great logic.

  • Marco Valenchino says:

    Well, actually it wasn't. It wasn't pointless because… First, because it shows the guy I thought his comment funny. Second, because people might see my comment, search for what I've laughed at and like his comment. Besides that, if my comment were pointless, what'd be a comment about a pointless comment ? I was gonna say sorry for my English, but I'm not really sorry.

  • Bích Ngọc says:

    Old people are very smart.

  • quitesquirrellike says:

    Good Sir, I would LOVE for most YouTube commenters to have English as good as yours.

  • Loco Loco says:

    The dude from six flags?

  • gzhryh6use4tf says:

    I have reason it believe tat the only way for this specimen is a bullet in the brain

  • Joshua Bloomquist says:

    I invite you to think creatively of a way to solve the problem without using force. You might even experience an Aha! moment!

  • kloud says:

    mind and brain r 2 different things that are treated alike. they r not the same thing.

  • Andrew H says:

    So based on what he is saying about creativity being enhanced by left-brain or left-frontal brain damage or disease…. Having worked in Advertising for years, does this finally prove that the Creative Dept is full of brain-damaged people?? Ha!

  • doxi stavrou says:

    not all old people!

  • Dork Anderson says:

    My understanding of creativity is repetition, repetition, repetition. To Master the left brain technical aspects of a particular art through repetition until conscious left brain thought can be turn off and the practitioner can "go into the zone". A euphoric autopilot state of mind.

  • frymillstrum says:

    Did anybody else think it was Larry David in the thumbnail?

  • Toby Ali says:


  • Angela Kovács says:

    It was very useful and interesting.
    Thank you for sharing.

  • Mind Agilis says:

    Very insightful. Hopefully, a better understanding of the brain will show us new ways to foster creativity. Creative thinking can turn problems into opportunities.

  • Sydnius Alminia says:

    I thought I was a reasonably smart guy, but I barely grasped anything he just talked about.

  • Esterhaszi says:


  • dilip varma says:

    You Sir! Deserve that wonderful Bow – TIe 

  • Eligio says:

    Green isn't creative Let's agree never to think creatively

  • Jesse Meredith says:

    So does this mean that with more study into the creative processes within the brain, alongside understanding of stimuli and how to generate certain responses, there could be a formula to creating music/arts/literature that invoke particular moods and responses?  What a sad world that would be…  🙁

  • Max Fuller says:

    For a second I thought this was the guy from the six flags commercials

  • king norfolk says:

    what pisses me of is that academic people try to categorize or explain creativity… as a creative person i know im unstable unpredictable and impulsive also thinking outside the box seems to be looked down upon which is rather strange… i mean personally i may be ever so lightly autistic as i can created an engine in my head and test run it… 

  • Teddi says:

    thanks God you created geniouses

  • Michael Mitiszek says:

    Simple minds laugh about simple things 😉

  • david hall says:

    If this is "Old Jews Telling Jokes" it's a slow burn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *