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Cognitive and Neuroscientific Approaches to the Arts (December 2018): Artistic Creation by Adults

By Travis Nygard and Lauren S. Weingarden

Artistic Creation by Adults

Most of the work that has been done on the intersection of cognitive science and the arts focuses on appreciation of art by adults, but some research also focuses on artistic creation. In What Is Art For? anthropologist Ellen Dissanayake theorizes how the arts relate to memory, arguing that the behaviors of making visual art, music, poetry, dance, and theater evolved because, like play and ritual, they make social events memorable and pleasurable. In The Improvising Mind: Cognition and Creativity in the Musical Moment, musicologist Aaron Berkowitz explores musical improvisation using cognitive neuroscience as a framework. He shows how the mind undergoes different cognitive processes when a creator is working with spontaneous intuition as opposed to working slowly, rationally, and deductively. Although Berkowitz focuses on music, his approach can be extended to analyze theatrical improvisation and intuitive and spontaneous forms of making visual art.

Works Cited