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ERIC Number: EJ901320
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 21
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 47
ISSN: ISSN-0022-0175
The Optimal Age to Start a Revolution
Dietrich, Arne; Srinivasan, Narayanan
Journal of Creative Behavior, v41 n1 p54-74 First Quarter 2007
Previous research on the relationship between age and creativity has shown that career age, rather than chronological age, correlates best with longitudinal changes in creative productivity. Recently, Dietrich (2004) proposed a new theoretical framework that integrates cognitive neuroscience with the findings of creativity research. By identifying distinct neural mechanisms that might underlie different types of creative mentation, this framework makes empirically testable predictions about the relationship between age and creativity. In this paper, we report the results of such a test and question the concept that creativity is a function of career age for a special, but crucial instance. In the case of revolutionary science or significant innovative discoveries, as opposed to paradigmatic science, discoveries are almost exclusively made by individuals who are young, both in terms of career "and" chronological age. These results remain robust even when taking into account the proportion of young scientists in the population of scientists. Neuroscientific data shows that a decline in prefrontal cortex function due to aging causes perseveration, the antithesis of creativity. Consequently, we interpret our findings that "paradigm-busting ideas" occur overwhelmingly to people in their 20's and early 30's, as indication that a nimble prefrontal cortex, and thus chronological age, is a critical factor. (Contains 4 figures and 1 table.)
Creative Education Foundation. 48 North Pleasant Street Suite 301, Amherst, MA 01002. Tel: 508-960-0000; Fax: 413-658-0046; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A