Jazz, Creativity, and the Brain


Neuroscientists have recently begun to examine the elusive nature of human creativity. Join Dr. Charles Limb, bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding, and jazz pianist Vijay Iyer as they discuss this fascinating new science and examine improvisational art forms such as jazz.


Dr. Aniruddh Patel speaking at the Kennedy Center.Scott Suchman

As part of a research study, Dr. Charles Limb, Francis A. Sooy, MD Professor and Chief of Otology/Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, took brain scans of musician volunteers while they were playing an instrument. He found that when musicians are improvising, the prefrontal cortex of the brain shuts off in large part. This is the part of the brain involved in conscious self-monitoring, that sensors you when you’re about to make an error.

This page last reviewed on July 13, 2017