How suppressing your brain's filter can increase creativity
It's interesting to note that as I was browsing the BlogHer topics to figure out how to classify this post, I couldn't find anything on creativity. There was something for various hobbies, something for health, something for career ... but where is the category just for creativity? Does that mean its lost its importance to us as we've married, had families and made careers for ourselves? (I finally decided on "careers" based on the theory that perhaps women are looking for new ways to problem solve to get ahead. What would you have chosen?)
So here's the scientific approach to "getting out of your own way" when it comes to creativity. The short version is that the prefrontal cortex is your brain's filter; it keeps out "irrelevant thoughts, perceptions and memories" when you're trying to accomplish a certain task.
Brain researchers wondered that, if they could inhibit this filter, would it make people more creative? So they used noninvasive methods to make it harder for certain neurons to fire, decreasing the amount of activity in the filtering part of the brain.
Then they showed participants everyday objects and asked them to come up with alternative/unusual uses. (i.e. a baseball bat as a rolling pin) The participants who received the stimulation were much better at come up with creative uses (vs. the group who had placebo stimulations) and much faster.
It would probably be $50,000 cheaper to do the experiment with my 7-year-old. I could probably come up with 3 or 4 uses for a baseball bat in a minute and she could come with 20!
Here's the study: