The human brain needs to suppress the most evident ideas in order to reach the most creative solutions to problems, a latest study has revealed. Researchers found these obvious associations taking place in human brain were present in both convergent (Out-of-box ideas) and divergent thinking (when individuals have to come up with several creative ideas) patterns.
The latest study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA and carried out by researchers from the Queen Mary University of London and Goldsmiths University of London, highlights how brainwaves play a crucial part in inhibiting habitual thinking patterns to pave the way to access more inaccessible ideas.
The researchers through the study aimed to understand how neural processes taking place in the human brain come into play while solving creative problems and whether it was possible to build a stimulation device to monitor brain activities during these activities, such as looking for words or linking these words with each other.
The researchers conducted a series of experiments to investigate the neural mechanisms and monitored the electrical activities of the brain through electroencephalogram (EEG). Moreover, researchers utilised transcranial alternating current brain stimulation tACS to investigate the causal role of brainwaves in creative endeavours.
The results of the study highlighted that creativity requires humans to break away from common and easily reached ideas, but little was known about what happens in the human brain during these processes. While performing creative tasks, stimulation of brainwaves or alpha oscillations taking place in the right temporal region increases the capacity of an individual to inhibit obvious links within different thinking patterns, particularly in cases when individuals restrained themselves from misleading associations, results of the study revealed.
The results highlighted that higher levels of alpha brainwaves enabled people to come up with ideas that were far away from the obvious or well-known ones and increased their capacities to develop obvious links in both kinds of creative thinking patterns.
Lead researcher of the study, Dr Caroline Di Bernardi Luft from the Queen Mary University of London, said: “If we need to generate alternative uses of glass, first we must inhibit our past experience which leads us to think of a glass as a container. Our study’s novelty is to demonstrate that right temporal alpha oscillations is a key neural mechanism for overriding these obvious associations.”
She further added, “In order to understand the processes underlying the production of novel and adequate ideas, we need to break down its constituent processes, dissecting creativity as much as possible at first, and then analysing them in context, before putting them back together to understand the process as a whole.”
“In order to understand the processes underlying the production of novel and adequate ideas, we need to break down its constituent processes, dissecting creativity as much as possible at first, and then analysing them in context, before putting them back together to understand the process as a whole,” she said.
Previous research studies highlighted how some people were more creative than others because of their ability to avoid strong associations in order to reach the more remote ones. However, this research study focused on how alpha brainwaves played an integral role during the creative processes.
This research study was performed in the framework of a European Commission supported project, titled CREAM (Creativity enhancement through advanced brain mapping and stimulation).