A Common Ground for Creativity

Mechanical Engineering. Classical music composition. Psychology. Jazz. On the surface, these pursuits have little in common, but for NYU-Poly Assistant Professor Maurizio Porfiri and the three co-presenters he'll share the Pfizer Auditorium stage with on Wednesday, April 18th, the end products of art and science are as intriguing as their common starting point-- a creative spark in the mind. 

Together with Professor of Psychology Sandra Huret from Universite de Montreal, classical composer and New York University lecturer Roberto Scarcella Perino and local Brooklyn musician and songwriter Howard Fishman, Porfiri will participate in "Emotions in Art and Science: A Path to Creativity," a panel discussion at NYU-Poly. 

Hailing from distinctly different backgrounds, the panelists will lend their unique perspectives to an exploration of the creative process, something that remains a mystery despite all that is known about the brain and its workings. "Nobody knows exactly how brilliant ideas are born," explains Huret, "yet there seem to be common emotions and mechanisms that underlie the creative process, whether it's expressed though art and music or science." 

The panelists will probe the commonalities that underlie creative thinking, revealing how both impulsive, unstructured thinking as well as organized deliberation are critical partners in creation.

Huret, whose research focuses on the emotional and cognitive aspects of creativity, believes that the interplay of two types of thinking fuel the creative process. Convergent thinking, which is logical and rational, facilitates problem solving. Divergent thinking is intuitive and unstructured. "Creative minds utilize both forms of thinking, and in fact both are essential to the process," Huret says. " Bringing together artists-- who are traditionally viewed as creative-- and scientists, who are generally perceived as rational--you can find surprising similarities." 

The panel discussion is the latest collaboration for Professors Porfiri and Huret, who have teamed up for multiple research studies on the intersection of music, science and creativity since 2008.