Suppressing the reasoning part of the brain stimulates creativity
From an article by Nicola Davis
Researchers have found that suppressing activity in the part of the brain involved in planning and reasoning can boost an individual’s ability to think in creative ways and solve mind-bending problems. But the benefits come at a price – a decrease in working memory processes.
The study tested the creative thinking of 60 participants, 47 of whom were women, using on-screen computer puzzles composed of matchsticks. The goal was for participants to move the matchsticks to produce an equation that made sense. For example, the problem IV = III + III is solved by moving one of the matchsticks on the left to produce VI = III + III.
The hardest problems required participants to override fixed ideas. For example the problem III = III + III is solved by moving one matchstick from the plus sign as follows to make an equals sign: III = III = III. Such problems are very difficult because they are not valid operations in mathematics.
Three groups of participants had electrodes placed on their scalp. One was a control group. The other two groups received 15 minutes of either positive or negative electrical stimulation. Negative stimulation suppresses neural activity, while positive stimulation excites it. The current was applied to the left side of a region of the brain known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex – an area that is involved in functions such as planning and abstract reasoning as well as working memory – and participants were then presented with a further set of problems.
The results showed that the proportion of participants who were able to solve the toughest problems for the first time after receiving their designated stimulation, were higher for those receiving negative stimulation at 32%, compared to just 5% for positive and sham stimulation. Suppression of activity in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex helps to override constraints in thinking learned from experience.
However the team also found that such negative stimulation resulted in participants becoming less able to tackle one of the other types of matchstick problem – suggesting that the electrical currents had impaired participants’ working memory. The negative stimulation would not boost efforts in cases where individuals need to keep track of a number of different things at the same time. “It would be beneficial to think ‘what exactly do I need to be creative on this task’ rather than how to improve creativity in general,” she said.
Importantly, the study includes speculations about how these discoveries might be used to achieve greater creativity without electrical stimulation to the brain.
The study was published here in the journal Scientific Reports
Doodling unlocks creativity
A research team led by Girija Kaimal of Drexel University found just a few minutes of doodling or freestyle drawing activates the brain’s reward system, leaving people feeling more creative and confident in their problem-solving abilities.
Each of 26 participants spent three minutes drawing whatever they wished; another three minutes doodling (using a series of circles as a starting point); and a final three minutes coloring in shapes on a pre-drawn mandala. Between projects, they spent two minutes resting with their eyes closed. Immediately before and after the experiment, they filled out a questionnaire in which they rated their level of imagination, ability to come up with new ideas, and ability to solve problems.
Responding to the experiment, participants rated themselves higher on two key assertions—”I have good ideas” and “I can solve problems”—after performing the three activities.
Some musicians who doodle musically are quoted.
How to make yourself work when you really don’t feel like it
From an article by Melissa Dahl
[This is not really research but hey…]
This is a term for the way we tend to turn to smaller tasks that we can finish more quickly, even (or especially) if that means ignoring the messier, more difficult thing that really needs our attention… If you really don’t feel like working, sometimes it’s fine to just follow that feeling, and do something else that’s mindless, but still important, for a while.
Set a timer for a limited amount of work and then start working
When there’s no time left for structured procrastination and you still don’t feel like working on the thing you’re supposed to be working on, try this: Set the timer on your phone for 45 minutes, and ignore social media and email and just work until it goes off.
You don’t need to feel like working in order to work
So you don’t feel like it, but work anyway.
Read the article here: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/06/how-to-make-yourself-work-when-you-really-dont-feel-like-it.html?mc_cid=4ead39c1bd&mc_eid=d99355acd1