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Med Hypotheses. 2016 Sep;94:138-47. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2016.07.010. Epub 2016 Jul 16.

Cycles of insanity and creativity within contemplative neural systems.

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Imagination Engines, Inc., 1550 Wall Street, Ste. 300, St. Charles, MO 63303, United States. Electronic address:


Random connection weight disturbances within an assembly of artificial neural networks (ANN) drive a progression of activation patterns that are tantamount to the memories and ideas nucleating within the brain's cortex. The numerical evaluation of these pattern-based notions by another, more placid system of ANNs governs the magnitude of weight disturbances administered to the former assembly, that perturbative intensity in turn controlling the novelty of the resulting ideational stream as well as the retention of newly formed concepts. In search of solution patterns to posed problems, such collaborating neural systems autonomously cycle between two extremes in mean synaptic perturbation level. The higher limit, characterized by chaos and inattentiveness to exogenous input patterns, is the regime in which ideas first form and incubate. The lower bound, marked by relative synaptic tranquility, is favorable to the reactivation and reinforcement of concepts first seeded during heightened perturbation. When considering this synthetic neural architecture as a cognitive model, the proposed source of such synaptic fluctuations is volume neurotransmitter release within cortex where both ideational and critic nets are commingled. As a result of their overlap, not only are the generative cortical networks suffused with neurotransmitters, but also those functioning in a critic role, leading to altered 'opinions' about the perturbation-driven stream of consciousness that then govern the injection of neurotransmitters into cortex. The likely effect of such chemical feedback is that the brain constantly cycles between states of idea generating chaos and perception stabilizing tranquility in much the same way that creative artificial neural systems do. Postulating that ideas are potentially useful or interesting false memories born within such turmoil, creativity appears to take place through a cyclic process consisting of alternating phases of (1) cognitive incapacitation, during which confabulatory notions incubate, and (2) synaptic calm when these incubated thoughts reemerge and reinforce themselves as they are then recognized for their value by a lucid perceptual apparatus. Extremes in such cycling, especially within the former dysfunctional phase, would be problematic from a mental health perspective. Whereas the literature is replete with findings linking creativity and various psychopathologies, the main hypothesis advanced herein is that the neurodynamics of both phenomena are the same. If vindicated, this theory may lead to advanced treatments that could potentially boost creativity as well as safeguard against the associated cognitive and psychological disorders, all through control of just one parameter, the difference between cortical concentrations of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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