Fine Structure

Creativity and Neuroenhancers

I knew Jonah Lehrer wouldn't let us down. Today, a subject near and dear to my heart; cognitive enhancement.

"It makes perfect sense that such a cognitive trade-off would exist. Paying attention to a particular task - like churning out run-on sentences about a road trip, or cramming for an organic chemistry test, or crunching numbers - requires the brain to ignore all sorts of seemingly unrelated thoughts and stimuli bubbling up from below. (The unconscious brain is full of potential distractions.) However, the same thoughts that can be such annoying interruptions are also the engine of creativity, since they allow us to come up with new connections between previously unrelated ideas."

Tradeoffs! It's like biology 101 class all over again. Seriously though, who's really surprised? Tradeoffs exist at every biological level I've ever learned anything about. And the takeaway idea: abuse of cognitive neuroenhancers lets you churn through that calculus homework, but does it stifle your ability to let your brain wander to new and interesting ideas? Apparently so. ]