Wisdom//

This Is Your Brain on Creativity

A new study shows how creativity really works inside our minds.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

We’ve all experienced bursts of creativity before. Using functional magnetic brain imaging, a new neurological study from India examined what’s really happening in our brains when creativity strikes, according to a piece about the findings in the Hindustan Times.

The five-year study was conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bangalore and completed in 2015. The study is significant for two reasons. First, “It is perhaps among the first few studies in the world to identify those areas of the brain which are active while performing creative tasks,” Dr. Senthil Kumaran, a professor in the Department of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, told Hindustan Times writer Aasheesh Sharma. Second, the study found that creativity can flow from the left hemisphere of the brain, not just the right hemisphere. The Split Brain Theory previously suggested that the left brain was used solely for processing rational, analytical information, while the right brain took responsibility for imagination, intuition, and creativity. “This is the first such study in India that I’ve heard of which indicates that creativity can flow out of the left brain too,” says Dr. Shirish Hastak of Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai, told Sharma.

While these findings are exciting, it’s important to note that they haven’t yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, and more research needs to be done in order to confirm them, as Dr. Pravat Mandal of the National Brain Research Centre, Gurgaon, told Sharma.

In the meantime, there are some practical implications for our daily lives based on the findings, according to the piece. The study found that specific areas of the brain like the cerebellum and motor cortex activate during creative tasks, and you can activate these regions through everyday activities such as playing an instrument or writing in a diary to help increase your creativity.

Here are simple exercises that can strengthen the motor cortex and cerebellum, parts of the brain associated with fostering creativity, Sharma writes.

  1. Try new experiences regularly, from listening to a new type of music to going to a new restaurant.

  2. Keep a daily journal documenting your experiences and thoughts. After one month, circle back to see what you wrote. This cognitive retrieval process can help enhance your memory and improves creativity, according to Sharma.

  3. Do nothing. It’s counterintuitive, but the creative part of your brain is active during rest. Sit, relax and enjoy the moment and you might experience that sought-after Eureka! moment.

Read more on the Hindustan Times.

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