Want to get more creative? Just shut down parts of your brain. It’s all down to understanding the mechanics of creativity, say researchers at the London-based Queen Mary University and Goldsmiths University who led the study. For years neuroscientists, philosophers, corporate leaders and artists have grappled with a core question related to creativity: what can we do to become more creative?
Finally, it appears, we are close to an answer. In their quest to find out whether we can get creative ‘on demand,’ or in other words, it is possible to simulate creativity, the researchers discovered that by shutting down one part of the brain involved in self control it is possible to increase creativity…a finding that corroborates with an earlier study that showed that “turning off” the editing, self-censoring parts of the brains could potentially enhance creativity.
In the earlier study, functional MRI machines showed how the brain switches from “self-monitoring” to the creative mode even as jazz players improvised on sounds. The first author of the new study Dr Caroline Di Bernardi Luft and her colleagues employed transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a technique which involves sending feeble electric currents directly to the cortex using electrodes, to stimulate creativity in 60 participants. With this technique the scientists attempted to modulate a brain region, which plays a crucial role in thinking and reasoning, known as the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC).
Dr. Luft explains the relationship between the DLPFC and creativity: “We solve problems by applying rules we learn from experience, and the DLPFC plays a key role in automating this process. It works fine most of the time, but fails spectacularly when we encounter new problems which require a new style of thinking – our past experience can indeed block our creativity. To break this mental fixation, we need to loosen up our learned rules.”
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