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Illuminating Genius: Unlocking Creativity

Thursday, May 29, 2008
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

Blending live performances, personal accounts of the creative process, and state-of-the-art brain imaging, this program illuminated questions about whether creativity is innate or learned, whether the innovative brain has distinct structural or chemical features, and whether we can enhance our ability — and that of our children — to be creative.

Choreographer and dancer Bill T. Jones, actor Michael York, painter, sculptor and digital artist Matthew Ritchie, and 2007 MacArthur Fellow and “prodigy of invention” Saul Griffith joined neuroscientists V.S. Ramachandran, Nancy C. Andreasen, and David Eagleman to explore cutting edge research into the brain’s creative impulses. The event was moderated by John Hockenberry.


John HockenberryJournalist

Three-time Peabody Award winner, four-time Emmy Award winner, and Dateline NBC correspondent John Hockenberry has broad experience as a journalist and commentator for more than two decades. Hockenberry is the anchor of the public radio show The Takeaway on WNYC and PRI.

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Vilayanur RamachandranNeuroscientist

Vilayanur Ramachandran investigates the nature of self and human consciousness. His work spans the causes and effects of synesthesia and phantom limb pain to questions about visual perception and the brain. He is Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California, San Diego.

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Michael YorkActor, Author

After graduation from Oxford in 1964, Michael York joined the National Theatre company, making his film debut in The Taming of the Shrew. His more than 60 other screen credits include Romeo and Juliet, Cabaret, Jesus of Nazareth, The Three Musketeers, Logan’s Run, Murder on the Orient Express, Conduct Unbecoming, The Omega Code and all three Austin Powers movies.

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Matthew RitchieMultimedia Artist

Matthew Ritchie is a painter, sculptor, and digital artist. His work combines science, architecture, history, and the dynamics of culture to explore the idea of information, and is featured in …

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Saul GriffithEntrepreneur, Inventor, Writer

Saul Griffith is the President and Chief Scientist at Makani Power, a company that is seeking to harness clean energy from high-altitude wind. He is a 2007 MacArthur Award-winning inventor, entrepreneur, and writer.

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Nancy C. AndreasenNeuroscientist

Neuroscientist Nancy C. Andreasen is well known for her pioneering work using MRI imaging to explore mental illness and the neural bases for artistic creativity and innovation. She is the author of several books including The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius.

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David EaglemanNeuroscientist, Author

David Eagleman is a neuroscientist, best-selling author, and Guggenheim Fellow who holds joint appointments in the Departments of Neuroscience and Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

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Bill T. JonesDancer, Choreographer

Bill T. Jones, a Tony Award-winning choreographer and dancer, has changed the face of American dance. He has infused issues of identity, form and social commentary into hundreds of award-winning shows worldwide. Jones is the artistic director and co-founder of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in New York City.

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