Aug 9, 2012

Mind Pops

On my latest trek to the library, I relished in my amazement and capability to be very easily distracted. I decided to browse the magazine section and picked up the latest issue of Scientific American. A very interesting article in the psychology section prompted me to think about the momentum of creativity. Ferris Jabr writes about a recently identified phenomenon coined as a "mind pop". He compares it to the signature moment in Marcel Proust novel In Search of Lost Time (Remembrance of Things Past), when the protagonist takes a bite of a madeleine and is sucked into an involuntary reverie of memory. This theme of involuntary memory prevails throughout the eternally lengthy text, and is the precise subject of current scientific research taking place. Psychologist Lia Kvavilashvili explains that mind pops are the product of long term priming as a process of memory. For example (this is my own), if you go to an art exhibit that featured abstract photographs of New York City, it might remind you of a melange of things, where you used to go to college, your own exhibit that you recently had, etc. Later on, other things might trigger these "active" concepts, but might seem to come out of nowhere. She goes on to say how this phenomenon can proliferate creativity because "if many different concepts remain activated in your mind, you can make connections more efficiently than if activation disappears right away." My conclusion is that for the sake of one's creativity, it's best to keep your mind engaged as much as possible to keep the juices flowing. Jabr, Ferris. "Mind Pops." Scientific American Aug. 2012: 28. Print.