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  • What word comes to mind when I say "imagination"?

  • Creativity? Ingenuity? Make-believe?

  • No matter who you are or where you come from, chances are you spend a lot of time imagining things.

  • But while you might use your imagination every day, scientists understand imagination a lot less than you might imagine.

  • Where does imagination come from? Why do we imagine at all? And is there a way for you to become more imaginative?

  • With the help of my friends here at Cirque du Soleil's Zarkana, we are about to explore the delightful possibilities of imagination.

  • And our journey begins right where you'd imagine it would: in your brain.

  • Look at the X in the middle of your screen. Now imagine a red triangle there. Got it? Does it look something like this?

  • If we guessed right, you might be thinking: "What's the big deal?" Until you realize you could've easily imagined this, or this, or this,

  • or any of a hundred different kinds of triangles, but you didn't, and we knew that.

  • Our imaginations are unique, but there's evidence that some ideas and images are shared by all of us.

  • To show you what we mean, we'll give you another shot.

  • Imagine a hero. That's all the information we're gonna give you.

  • Just picture a hero in your mind. Got an image in your head? Does it look something like this? Did we read your mind again?

  • Of course, real heroes come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, all genders.

  • It could be your parents or grandparents, or Rosa Parks or Jackie Robinson.

  • You might even think of a sandwich.

  • But your default setting is probably a hero that looks like Superman, so what's going on here?

  • Here to explain is Dr. Sara Mednick from University of California, Riverside.

  • Every culture shares common images and themes that make up the raw material of your imagination.

  • Psychologist Carl Jung called this the collective unconscious, but new research has uncovered something called the social unconscious.

  • These are shared beliefs and values you might incorporate into your thoughts and behaviors without even realizing it.

What word comes to mind when I say "imagination"?

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