The Heart and Science of Creativity | Sep 2011

FMBR Editorial: Sep, 2011

The Heart and Science of Creativity

William Gough, with Helen Maslocka and Judy Kitt

On a warm weekend in June, board members from FMBR gathered with researchers from the Institute of HeartMath (Dr. Rollin McCraty and Mike Atkinson) and the Chicago Center for Creative Development (Drs. Hector and Linnea-Carlson Sabelli) to discuss recent advances in theories about the processes of creation and the role of the human heart in elucidating a new approach in the scientific understanding of creativity in complex systems. The Working Meeting on BIOS and HeartMath research was sponsored by the Foundation for Mind-Being Research because we believed the combined research of these two groups represented a true cutting edge bridge between science, creativity and consciousness. Both organizations have been studying for decades Heart Rate Variability (HRV) as the basis for their work. HRV is the naturally occurring beat-to-beat changes in heart rate.

The BIOS plot produced from healthy human heartbeat-intervals reveals a surprising regulatory that reminds of ancient Mandala archetypes.

In a healthy individual, the heart rate estimated at any given time represents the net effect of the parasympathetic (vagus) nerves, which slow heart rate, and the sympathetic nerves, which accelerate it. These changes are influenced by emotions, thoughts and physical exercise. Our changing heart rhythms involve not only the heart that has its own neurons (small brain), but also our central control brain. Hence, such changes can affect our ability to process information, including decision-making, problem-solving, creativity, and how we feel. Thus, the study of heart-rate variability is a powerful, objective and noninvasive tool to explore the dynamic interactions between physiological, mental, emotional and behavioral processes.

In a healthy individual, the heart rate estimated at any given time represents the net effect of the parasympathetic (vagus) nerves, which slow heart rate, and the sympathetic nerves, which accelerate it. These changes are influenced by emotions, thoughts and physical exercise. Our changing heart rhythms involve not only the heart that has its own neurons (small brain), but also our central control brain. Hence, such changes can affect our ability to process information, including decision-making, problem-solving, creativity, and how we feel. Thus, the study of heart-rate variability is a powerful, objective and noninvasive tool to explore the dynamic interactions between physiological, mental, emotional and behavioral processes.

Using the studies in HRV, Dr. Sabelli has proposed a pattern characteristic of causal and creative processes that he calls "BIOS" and describes in his book, BIOS: A Study of Creation. Note that in the current mechanical models of physics and biology, no theory for creativity is offered -- these models instead credit random change for innovations. Dr. Sabelli collaborated with mathematician Louis Kauffman PhD, to create a seminal equation called the Process Equation that recognizes continuous creativity as a fundamental of life. Studies have been done that illustrate that BIOS is ubiquitous. The prototype of BIOS is the heartbeat intervals that illustrated the biological embodiment of emotional processes. Yet, biotic patterns also have been observed in Schrodinger's wave function in quantum physics; temporal distributions of both galaxies and quasars; sequences of bases in DNA; population size of different species; air and ocean temperatures; shape of rivers and shores; economic prices, stocks, and currencies; and literary texts and musical compositions.

A newly described form of feedback can generate the BIOS pattern mathematically. In the BIOS theory the generator of the creative process is bipolar feedback - a feedback that is both positive and negative. It involves both cooperation and conflict. Elemental pairs of opposites live in creative dialogue. Thus, the creation of novelty and complexity is attributed to the interaction of opposites in a bipolar feedback processes. Asymmetry becomes essential. The new pattern of BIOS represents an expansion beyond chaos theory. Natural processes evolve towards an infinitely complex attractor rather than towards entropic decay.

Over the course of the weekend at HeartMath, both teams of researchers became familiar with the others' work, with the goal of devising a collaborative experiment designed to strengthen the concept and link the years of research each entity has put into bringing these new ideas forward. It was a fascinating and fruitful exchange. A videotape of a conversation between Drs. Rollin McCraty, Hector Sabelli and Bill Gough discussing their ideas will be available soon. In conclusion, we need a science where we can observe the real magic in the universe - a science that can move hearts. This is what the science of BIOS has the potential to do.

William Gough with Helen Maslocka and Judy Kitt September, 2011

Comments on this editorial are welcome.