My Brain, the Imagination Machine

I’ve long been interested in the idea of imagination. As a child I played imaginary games with friends, with my sister, and alone. No doubt I love Wonderland and Oz because it was easy for me to imagine myself in them. And I think my love of history stems from also being able to easily imagine myself back in time.

I’ve done some research on imagination and would have to say that just about all the scholars I’ve read have come from the fields of philosophy, psychology, history, and other social sciences. But today I came across a completely new way of thinking about imagination — biologically.

Via one of my favorite websites, Arts & Letters Daily, comes a most fascinating article, “The Biology of the Imagination” by Simon Baron-Cohen. I tend to be a bit skittish of education being built around brain research (e.g. right/left and such), but this article made me really sit up and pay attention.


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5 responses to “My Brain, the Imagination Machine

  1. I have an 8yo son with Asperger’s and my personal view is that Simon B-C is the most interesting of the recent writers on the topic. He is generating new ideas, with a very sympathetic and thought provoking perspective.

    I hadn’t found that article yet – thanks for pointing it out. (I’m behind on my A&LD fix *g*)


  2. Very interesting. I, too, have family members with autism.

    My question is: why did humans need to develop this skill of “imagination” when other living things did not? What in evolution triggered the brain to start making copies of primary representations and modifying them for fun and profit?

    I sense a great SF novel being formed in (someone else’s) mind.


  3. hey, Monica. Thanks for the link; I’m going to go read that article. I believe that Simon B-C is the brother of Sascha, of Borat fame.


  4. Susan,

    And Ali G. fame too then. I was wondering about that as it doesn’t seem all that common a name.


  5. Can you give us any highlights on the biological theories?


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