"Would you believe it, the child has never been read to nor told a story in his life?...his poor imagination has been left without any natural food at all. I often wonder what the present generation of children will grow up like...They have been treated with so much indulgence yet so little affection, with so much science and so little mother-wit. Not a fairy tale, nor a nursery rhyme..." - C.S. Lewis
Imagination is often a necessary catalyst for creative work because it provides just the right mixture of real experience and unreal. Pity the children who are only given exercises of the front parts of their brains and not the back!
Look at the close match between reality and imagination at the front part of the brain (analysis, conscious reflection). Look at the differences that appear at the back (spatial perception, visual imagery and association). Lower levels of activation during imagination could reflect simplification or abstraction of an what's seen - kind of like a artist doing a minimalist sketch. More activation in the back could probably be triggered if subjects were cued to visual free association, mentally rotate or move.
It's interesting to think about imagination catalyzing creativity by feeding the brain less information as well as more. Good fairy tales are like that - their lessons can be beautifully simple as well as complex.
Visual Imagination and Visual Perception pdf
Dreams, Inventions, and Discoveries
Lemelson Center: Invention at Play
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