David Bueno: “Creativity is what allows us to manage the uncertainty in which we live”

David Bueno is a doctor in Biology as well as a professor and researcher in the Biomedical Genetics, Evolution and Development department of the University of Barcelona. In 2010 he was awarded the European Prize for Scientific Outreach, and currently directs the Neuroeducation Chair UB-Edu1st, which works to enhance the training of professionals in the field of neuroeducation, specialized dissemination and knowledge transfer.

We speak with him to understand how the situation of forced confinement has affected our creativity and how the relationship with a new environment in which everything will have to be reconsidered.

What consequences has confinement had on our creativity?

It’s hard to say because it is the first time we have had scientific records of what’s going on during confinement. What we do know is that little by little the brain tends to slow down the production of new neural connections. There is also an opposite effect of stimulating creativity because of boredom. In the first three or four weeks there was an avalanche of people doing original things, and this has been turning off since we have returned to the streets.

How has it affected our brains being forced to be closed and in a restricted social environment?

Above all, we have been affected by the lack of information management, not knowing why this or that was done. This has led us to feel a sense of imposition. There are those who like an imposition, because they have a more submissive mentality and can accept better an authority without the need to understand why; and on the other hand, there are people who rebel when they don’t have explanations.

Both confined and with the new normal, we are living in a large-scale experiment.

Both in the field of anthropology and neuroscience, I think it’s a fascinating opportunity. It can help us design strategies for future pandemic. It will happen again sooner or later, and all this information will be valuable not only to design health plans, but also social plans.

How have genetics affected the management of confinement?

There is a predisposition: there are people who are genetically better prepared to be creative and others who are not so ready. The most important thing, however, is how infants have been especially stimulated. An educational and social system that allows dissent, discussion, criticism, inquiry… it makes everyone, whatever genetics they have, end up being more creative than they would be in a system where things are done in an imposed way.

Was it a mistake not to consider alternative ways?

I think we have failed in the way we have explained things. In the beginning, in the crisis cabinet, there were doctors who fulfilled their task but it was the minister, who is not a doctor, and a uniformed military who informed us about the situation. What does that transmit? An absolutely hierarchical image of command and obedience.

What lesson do you think we should keep in an educational and creative aspect of what, perhaps, has been the first of many confinements?

We have to promote creative thinking from a very young age. We live in an uncertain world and creativity is precisely what allows us to manage this uncertainty.

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