Your Brain on Art: Understanding the Brain in Creative Action

What makes a person creative? Researchers at the University of Houston, and the Blaffer Art Museum are teaming up to find the answer.

“I want to know what makes an artist unique in the way they create,” said Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal, professor of electrical engineering at UH.

Your Brain on Art is a collaboration between UH’s Non-Invasive Brain Machine Systems Laboratory and Blaffer that seeks to understand what happens in the brain as people create and contemplate art.

“Can you see how you are thinking? Can you make physical a process that is normally invisible inside of us,” said Dario Robleto, an artist participating in the study.

Recently Robleto and two other artists took part in a collaborative game called “exquisite corpse,” where each artist creates a portion of a piece of art without seeing what the artist before them created.

“I know how it feels and I know what is satisfying in the process of making something and what is frustrating in the process of making something and I am curious how that relates to other processes of innovation,” added Lily Cox-Richard, another artist participating in the study.

Over the course of the Your Brain on Art series, Contreras will study multiple artistic disciplines trying to learn more about the brain's creative process.

“I think there is so much to learn from the arts to understand the creative process and perhaps enhance innovation in science and engineering,” Contreras said.