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Creativity and the Brain
Charles J. Limb, M.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery;
Faculty, Peabody Conservatory of Music;
Editor-in-Chief, Trends in Amplification

Dr. Charles Limb

For many years, scientists have tended to avoid systematic study of the arts. Yet recent innovations in neuroscience and cognitive psychology have allowed scientists to regard as reasonable subjects of investigation even the most elusive of all domains: human creativity. Through the use of modern functional neuroimaging methods,  we can now examine neural correlates of musical improvisations in expert musicians, ranging from jazz pianists to freestyle hip-hop rappers. This work represents an important first step in unraveling how human brains have been able to generate creativity and beauty using artistic behaviors throughout history.

Dr. Charles Limb is an Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, where he specializes in neurotology and skull base surgery. He is also a Faculty Member at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. He received his undergraduate degree at Harvard University, medical degree at Yale University School of Medicine, and completed surgical training at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He also completed postdoctoral research fellowships under Dr. David Ryugo and Dr. Allen Braun. His current areas of research focus on the study of the neural basis of musical improvisation and creativity (in jazz and freestyle rap) as well as the study of music perception in deaf individuals with cochlear implants. His work has been featured by CNN, National Public Radio, TED, National Geographic, Scientific American, PBS, the New York Times, the Library of Congress, Canadian Broadcasting Company, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the American Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Institute. Learn more about Dr. Limb

Additional Information:

Journal article on the MRi study of jazz improvisation

View a YouTube video on Dr. Limb

Ted Talk: Charles Limb: Your Brain on Improv

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