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Where do IDEAS come through, from the brain or only in the mind?

Updated on October 11, 2012

Origin of ideas

If one has to give a straightforward or plain and direct answer to the question “Ideas, where do they come from, brain or mind?”, it is best to be guided by the basic meaning or definition of the key words “ideas,” “mind,” and “brain.”

"Ideas" defined

Let us analyze first what an idea is all about? The dictionary defines an idea as a thought or conception that potentially or actually exists in the mind as a product of mental activity. It is an opinion, conviction or principle; as well as a plan, scheme, or method. An idea is also a notion, a fancy.

The "mind" defined

On the other hand, mind refers to the human consciousness that originates in the brain and is manifested especially in thought, perception, emotion, will, memory, and imagination. Mind is the principle of intelligence, the spirit of consciousness regarded as an aspect of reality. It is the faculty of thinking, reasoning, and applying knowledge. It is also synonymous to opinion, or sentiment; desire or inclination.

The mind also refers to the intellect, intelligence, brain, wit, reason. These nouns denote the capacity of thinking, reasoning, and acquiring and applying knowledge. Mind refers broadly to the capacities for thought, perception, memory, and decision.

The "brain" defined

Meanwhile, thebrain is “the portion of the vertebrate central nervous system that is enclosed within the cranium, continuous with the spinal cord, and composed of gray matter and white matter. It is the primary center for the regulation and control of bodily activities, receiving and interpreting sensory impulses, and transmitting information to the muscles and body organs. It is also the seat of consciousness, thought, memory and emotion.” (Note: For the purpose of this write-up, what is being referred to pertains to the human brain which has the sole ability of complex thinking).

From a philosophical point of view, it is said that the most important function of the brain is to serve as the physical structure underlying the mind. From a biological point of view, though, the most important brain function is to generate behaviors that promote the welfare of a human being or an animal. Brain controls behavior either by activating muscles, or by causing secretion of chemicals such as hormones.

Based on the above descriptions, my layman’s conclusion is that ideas actually come from both the brain and the mind, the brain being the physical structure, similar to a machine or an apparatus, that enables ideas to be produced in the mind or consciousness through the faculty of thinking or mental activity. Also, there is a conjecture here that anything that comes to mind or manififested in or by the mind can be called or considered an idea or a thought.

For as long as the person is awake, the thinking process continuously produces all sorts of conscious ideas, which simply means that thoughts are perceived through any of the five senses of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting, depending whichever sensory is actively engaged at the moment.

"I have a theory about the human mind. A brain is a lot like a computer. It will only take so many facts, and then it will go on overload and blow up. " - Emma Bembeck

Following the computer analogy used in the above quotation, it seems very likely that the "brain" can be construed as the hardware while the "mind" as the software.

Creative ideas

Yet, if what we are after is to know more about the origin of creative ideas, research showed that it comes from the right brain. Some significant research conducted by Roger Sperry, which later earned him the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1981, clearly showed that the brain is divided into two major parts or hemispheres, the right brain and the left brain, each one with different style of thinking processes and functions.

The right brain functions in a non-verbal manner and excels in visual, spatial, perceptual, and intuitive information. It processes information differently than the left brain which is more associated with verbal, logical, and analytical thinking.

The left brain does well in naming and categorizing things, symbolic abstraction, speech, reading, writing, arithmetic. This is contrasted to the quick, nonlinear and nonsequential processing that happens in the right brain.

The right brain deals with complexity, ambiguity and paradox. Sometimes, right brain thinking finds it difficult to put into words because it is more complex and because of its ability to process information quickly and its non-verbal nature. For these reasons, the right brain is being linked with the realm of creativity.

Spiritual Perspective

From a more subtle and spiritual perspective, ideas are thoughts which can either come from the ego (false self or self-centeredness) or from the spirit or voice of God within. Enlightened spiritual individuals are supposed to live in oneness with an invisible entity much larger and deeper than themselves which intuitively guides them to generate ideas and thoughts that are creative and will be beneficial not only for themselves but to the community in general. The enjoyment and experience of inner peace, joy, and love that radiates externally amidst the ups and downs is indicative of the presence of such phenomenon in the lives of these awakened individuals. In short, they allow the spirit to influence and rule their brain, their mind, and their lives, and not the other way around.

In contrast, individuals who are operating purely from ego-based state of mind has the general tendency to allow their mind to rule their decisions and behaviors. Their thought patterns and behavior are oftentimes in conformity with the norms of the finite and visible and yet, deceptive world. Oftentimes, they can find success and the fulfillment of their desires, yet, genuine peace and joy can be elusive.

As living human beings as we all are who are still in physical body form with mind and spirit, we tend more to navigate from ego-based self to spirit-led life and vice versa depending on our desires, orientation, level of openness and the choices we make. Yet, we have been also given the freewill to choose our own path and destinies.

Ideas, mind and brain are super interesting topics that have been and still are the subject of volumes and tons of studies and researches. We can barely scratch the surface of their meaning, cause, effect, functions, relationships and development in this regard.

"A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist. " Louis Nizer

"This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. " - Dalai Lama


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    • Ian Dabasori Hetr profile image

      Ian D Hetri 

      7 years ago from Papua New Guinea

      Brilliant piece of writing. Well articulated. Voted up and sharing

    • tlmcgaa70 profile image


      8 years ago from south dakota, usa

      i just wrote a hub last night on the difference between the mind and the brain, according to the way I see it. i believe the mind is connected to the spirit, while the brain is connected to the physical body. the mind is connected to the emotional heart while the brain is connected to the physical heart. the mind and brain work together complementing each other.

      the body can live without the mind, but only in a vegetative state...the mind cannot live without the other words, though the mind (who we are) is immortal, in order for it to exist in the physical world it needs the body.

    • LoryRich profile imageAUTHOR

      Lory Rich 

      8 years ago from Philippines

      Hi Sonia! Thank you for your interest. I wrote this hub in April 2009. The way I understand it, feelings or emotions are thoughts or ideas expressed in and through our physical body. Thus, if we have happy thoughts, we feel happy; while negative thoughts produce the corresponding negative feelings of either fear, sadness, anxiety, anger, etc.. Body is the feeling entity. Triggered by the idea, the brain causes the movement of the muscles and/or secretion of fluids or hormones. The concrete existence of ideas are observed through the feelings, behavior, gestures and verbal expressions. This is solely a layman's perception of a complex process, though. Hope this helps.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi, I just saw you're article about Ideas and their relationships with the brain. I have no 'idea' when you wrote this, but I do strongly hope that you see my comment and answer it. I just started wondering recently about the real and 'concrete' existence of ideas. Do they really have a real, chemichal or physical existance of their own the way feelings do (expressed in fluids)?

      It is a fairely important question for me to asnwer.. If you wish to try to answer this or if you just would like to add further comments, plz e-mail me on

    • eonsaway profile image


      10 years ago from New Mexico, USA

      Great writing and fascinating topic. I will re-read this one again with a fresh 'mind'.

    • C.S.Alexis profile image


      10 years ago from NW Indiana

      My ideas come from out of the blue, they pop in my head like a light bulb being switched on, many times trying to think up an idea is a waste of time, creativity meets logic and bingo! Someplace in the middle between the left and the right, I will call it The Fifty Yard Line.

      Thanks for this hub that is one to make me think, could be dangerous, HA!

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      10 years ago from California Gold Country

      To me, the brain seems like the physical mechanism, the mind something less definable, more etherial or even spiritual. All peope and animals have some kind of brain, but not all produce ideas. Others are just out of their mind.


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