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The Creativity Machine

University Professor Antonio Damasio leads a panel on creativity and the brain during the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting in San Diego.

November 18, 2013

University Professor Antonio Damasio of USC Dornsife led a panel on the brain and creativity before scientists from throughout the world. Here, he is seen in his office at the USC Brain and Creativity Institute, housed in USC Dornsife. Photo by Philip Channing.

University Professor Antonio Damasio of USC Dornsife led a panel on the brain and creativity before scientists from throughout the world. Here, he is seen in his office at the USC Brain and Creativity Institute, housed in USC Dornsife. Photo by Philip Channing.

Antonio Damasio, University Professor, David Dornsife Chair in Neuroscience and professor of psychology and neurology at USC Dornsife, spoke about the neuroscience of creativity during a recent conference held in San Diego that drew 30,000 scientists worldwide.

Damasio’s presentation launched the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience held Nov. 9 to 13. The event was presided over by Larry Swanson, Milo Don and Lucille Appleman Professor of Biological Sciences at USC Dornsife and president of the society.

At the event, severalkey faculty members from USC presented their latest pioneering research in neuroscience. Scientists and collaborators from 80 countries gathered for presentations by luminaries in the field, also including USC’s Berislav Zlokovic, Dan Campbell and Dion Dickman.

“USC has shown how to use imaging and other technologies to discover the workings of the human mind,” said Randolph Hall, vice president of research at USC. “Our ability to integrate technology and science is unmatched.”

Director of the USC Brain and Creativity Institute based in USC Dornsife, Damasio presented with a fellow neuroscientist from Johns Hopkins University as well as a composer, a visual artist and an inventor. The discussion explored the nature of creativity and how the brain works to create extraordinary products in various fields. 

Dickman, assistant professor of neuroscience at USC Dornsife, chaired a minisymposium about a species of fly known as Drosophila melanogaster that is offering new insights into synapses in healthy and diseased brains.

Zlokovic, director of the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, delivered an hour-long presentation on the blood-brain barrier, the system that prevents toxic elements from reaching the brain. Zlokovic discussed the role that damage to the blood-brain barrier may play in neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Campbell, assistant professor of psychiatry and the behavioral sciences at Keck, participated in a symposium on the genetic correlates of autism. Campbell’s research focuses on the MSNP1AS gene, which contributes to the disorder.

The Society for Neuroscience is an international organization of scientists and physicians with nearly 42,000 members in more than 90 countries.