Scientists are unlocking the biological secrets of creativity
Steven Brown must be the first person in the world to have danced the tango inside an MRI machine. Brown is an amateur dancer, but he is also a neuroscientist in the psychology department at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. He studies what goes on in the brain when it is engaged in the arts and, for his tango study, he wanted to see the differences between leading and following in partner dancing. He lay in the machine and danced with his arms, holding a partner’s hands outside it and leading her through her moves before they swapped roles. He found that the leading partner’s brain used more motor planning – the brain’s ability to plan and execute a physical task – while the following one showed more sensory activation, responding to the cues of touch and music.