An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Short Distance between a Creative Genius and a Psychotic

information-overload.jpgLearning is by acquisition of knowledge which exists in mind by associations. A piece of information that did not have enough associations because it was insignificant and so no memory of it exists, is a natural way for the mind to leave out data that is “insignificant” for any known associations in mind from previous memory. This helps us keep sane. The ability to “Inhibit” the learning is called Latent Inhibition.

Latent inhibition is a technical term used in Classical conditioning. A stimulus that has not had any significance in the past takes longer to acquire meaning (as a signal) than a new stimulus. It is “a measure of reduced learning about a stimulus to which there has been prior exposure without any consequence.”[1] This tendency to disregard or even inhibit formation of memory, by preventing associative learning of observed stimuli, is an unconscious response[2] and is assumed to prevent sensory overload.

The inability to leave out information can create psychosis in a person. With two much information coming in and no way to “kill” the insignificant, where every thing seems important and relevant, can lead to a point, where one finds drowned in a lot of information with no way to act on any piece.

However, now a study says (also in this study) that this may after all not be such a bad thing! If you have a high IQ and have a low Latest Inhibition (LI) score, then you could be a creative genius!

Reductions in latent inhibition (LI), the capacity to screen from conscious awareness stimuli previously experienced as irrelevant, have been generally associated with the tendency towards psychosis. However, “failure” to screen out previously irrelevant stimuli might also hypothetically contribute to original thinking, particularly in combination with high IQ. Meta-analysis of two studies, conducted on youthful high-IQ samples. demonstrated that high lifetime creative achievers had significantly lower LI scores than low creative achievers (r(effect size) = .31, p = .0003, one-tailed). Eminent creative achievers (participants under 21 years who reported unusually high scores in a single domain of creative achievement) were 7 times more likely to have low rather than high LI scores,

Normal brains are great about focusing on only that information that “associated” with your past conditioning. Creative brains let lot more in through the door. They in turn use their better intelligence faculties to create associations between the excess information that has come in.

The normal brains have less to “play around with”. While Creative achievers have more to work with. However, the key remains that one should be able to link the excess that does come in and control the information, instead of letting it control the person. If a person’s mind gets overwhelmed by the large amount of data he let in unhindered, then that will be a sure way to enter the world of psychosis.

In today’s world of data and information overload, its very tough to live without either a door mechanism which doesn’t let more stuff in than is required, or have the intelligence to deal with the extra stuff that creeped in while you weren’t really aware of it.

Where do you stand as a person? I think I am rather weak at the door. I let lots more information come in than I would want to. But it helps.

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