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Right Brain Smarts: Creative People’s Brains Function Differently

Leftrightbrain A new study has ended the controversy (or perhaps just stirred up more) by demonstrating that creative people do think in a fundamentally different way than everyone else. The study showed that non-creative types versus creative types do indeed exhibit quite different patterns of brain activity while going about solving problems, and even just while daydreaming.

Scientists have wondered for some time if people who think “creatively” are able to somehow think differently from those who seem to think in a more methodical fashion. However, many researchers have argued that what we call “creative thought” and “noncreative thought” are really not two different things. If that were true, then people who are thought of as “creative” would not actually think in a fundamentally different way from those who are thought of as uncreative.

However, other researchers have argued that creative thought is fundamentally different than other forms of thought. If this camp is right, then those who tend to think creatively really are somehow neurologically different than everyone else.

The new study led by John Kounios, professor of psychology at Drexel University and Mark Jung-Beeman of Northwestern University compared the physiological brain activity of creative versus noncreative problem solvers. The study published in the journal Neuropsychologia, reveals a distinct pattern of brain activity, even at rest, in people who tend to solve problems with sudden creative insights, which are commonly referred to as “Aha! Moments”, that differed distinctly from people who tend to solve problems, and think in a methodical fashion.

During the study, participants relaxed quietly for seven minutes while their electroencephalograms (EEGs) were recorded to show their brain activity. The participants were not given any task to perform and told they could think about whatever they wanted. Later, they were asked to solve a series of anagrams – scrambled letters that can be rearranged to form words [XMPAELE = EXAMPLE]. These can be solved by deliberately and methodically trying out different letter combinations, or they can be solved with a sudden insight or “Aha!” in which the solution pops into awareness.

One of the several differences discovered was that the creative solvers exhibited greater activity in several regions of the right hemisphere. Previous research has indicated that the right hemisphere of the brain plays a special role in solving problems with creative insight, likely due to right-hemisphere involvement in the processing of loose or “remote” associations between the elements of a problem, which is understood to be an important component of creative thought.

The study also showed that greater right-hemisphere activity occurs even during a “resting” state in those with a tendency to solve problems by creative insight. This finding suggests that even the spontaneous thought of creative individuals, such as in their daydreams, contains more remote associations.

Second, creative and methodical solvers exhibited different activity in areas of the brain that process visual information. The pattern of “alpha” and “beta” brainwaves in creative solvers was consistent with diffuse rather than focused visual attention. This may allow creative individuals to broadly sample the environment for experiences that can trigger remote associations to produce an Aha! Moment.

Thus, the new study shows that basic differences in brain activity between creative and methodical problem solvers exist and are evident even when these individuals are not working on a problem. According to Kounios, “Problem solving, whether creative or methodical, doesn’t begin from scratch when a person starts to work on a problem. His or her pre-existing brain-state biases a person to use a creative or a methodical strategy.”

In addition to contributing to current knowledge about where creativity comes from, this study suggests the possible development of new brain imaging techniques for assessing potential for creative thought, (so you can not get that job for being such a dullard) and for assessing the effectiveness of methods for training individuals to think more creatively.

Posted by Rebecca Sato.

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Related posts:

Vulcans Nixed: You Can’t Have Logic Without Emotion

Links:
http://www.psych.northwestern.edu/~mjungbee/research.htm

*Portions of this post were extracted from a Drexel University news release.

Study:
Kounios, J., Fleck, J.I., Green, D.L., Payne, L., Stevenson, J.L., Bowden, M., & Jung- Beeman, M. (2008). The origins of insight in resting-state brain activity. Neuropsychologia, 46, 281-291.

Comments

There's an old Yiddish saying - The wise man hears one word and understands two.

A creative person tend to see more dimensionally than most of us; correlations to the past as well as possibilities in the future. A prime creative premise is that nothing happens in isolation - and everything has some kind of purpose.

No experience is wasted.

A couple of thoughts from Albert...

Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.
Albert Einstein

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." --A. Einstein

left brained is associated with reasoning ability on iq tests which measure this. iq should not be counted as a measure of intelligence, because their is no way to actually record this, although yes, iq is determined by intelligence, it should not be, because they mix questions of reasoning ability with a persons ability to grasp what is at hand intelligently. this means that 1. you need to be left brained in such a way so that you can process information from left to right. this would allow you to process information in the correct order which than is syncopated with the ability to reason, which is a left brain function anyway. so regardless even if your going from left to right, you better be sure that your mainly left brained for this reason.
2. that if you do well in these tests it maybe because of cultural influences as well as famial upbrining or just general intelligence which could theoretically have the right brained person have a rather high iq score, although this is not nearly the case at all times, with people being less intelligent with left brains still scoring higher than someone who is more intelligent yet right brain.
3. our idea that something makes us intelligent should require us to believe that we have all evolved differently if you want to believe that evolution happened, or if you have facts which support sufficiently enough, than that is your opinion. i think that intelligence though is multifaceted.
4. our view that that the right brain is not better than the left brain is a bad view. the body does not control the right brain. the right brain controls the body. in some african societies though mainly the very aborogenis type cultures, the africans believe such as most do in america that the body dictates lifes course. in western society, philsophy has replaced it with its own ideas that the creative process is held within the constructs of the brain, therefore in modern science the right brain as it is regarded, is the machine that drives the body, not vice versa. so their is a level of specialness given back to the right brain. again, this is only the other half of your brain, what a shame to not to have a reason for explaining it. right brain is in control of mystical experiences, and it is probably the first area which is associated with bringing our attention to flowers, outer space and the likes. we should respect the right brain.
another concept that western society has not accepted is that their technological civilization is at question mainly because things as simple as ants and bumblee bee's and various assortments thereof, are in control of what they do. and much like americans are good builders. compare this bee to a chinese, and you'll see why the bee is more intelligent when it comes to making things, but clearly it would be a shame to say that the bee was more intelligent. or to so that chinese are less intelligent than americans. infact a lot think chinese are more intelligent, but that their reasoning skills on iq tests are slightly higher, and that they have no specialized way of creating technologies. again, this is not to blame them, simply that they might be more intelligent or have a different kind of intelligence as i implied earlier.

with all this said, this may have helped transform your views, if not no big deal. just a model of information to compare for the future.

left brained is associated with reasoning ability on iq tests which measure this. iq should not be counted as a measure of intelligence, because their is no way to actually record this, although yes, iq is determined by intelligence, it should not be, because they mix questions of reasoning ability with a persons ability to grasp what is at hand intelligently. this means that 1. you need to be left brained in such a way so that you can process information from left to right. this would allow you to process information in the correct order which than is syncopated with the ability to reason, which is a left brain function anyway. so regardless even if your going from left to right, you better be sure that your mainly left brained for this reason.
2. that if you do well in these tests it maybe because of cultural influences as well as famial upbrining or just general intelligence which could theoretically have the right brained person have a rather high iq score, although this is not nearly the case at all times, with people being less intelligent with left brains still scoring higher than someone who is more intelligent yet right brain.
3. our idea that something makes us intelligent should require us to believe that we have all evolved differently if you want to believe that evolution happened, or if you have facts which support sufficiently enough, than that is your opinion. i think that intelligence though is multifaceted.
4. our view that that the right brain is not better than the left brain is a bad view. the body does not control the right brain. the right brain controls the body. in some african societies though mainly the very aborogenis type cultures, the africans believe such as most do in america that the body dictates lifes course. in western society, philsophy has replaced it with its own ideas that the creative process is held within the constructs of the brain, therefore in modern science the right brain as it is regarded, is the machine that drives the body, not vice versa. so their is a level of specialness given back to the right brain. again, this is only the other half of your brain, what a shame to not to have a reason for explaining it. right brain is in control of mystical experiences, and it is probably the first area which is associated with bringing our attention to flowers, outer space and the likes. we should respect the right brain.
another concept that western society has not accepted is that their technological civilization is at question mainly because things as simple as ants and bumblee bee's and various assortments thereof, are in control of what they do. and much like americans are good builders. compare this bee to a chinese, and you'll see why the bee is more intelligent when it comes to making things, but clearly it would be a shame to say that the bee was more intelligent. or to so that chinese are less intelligent than americans. infact a lot think chinese are more intelligent, but that their reasoning skills on iq tests are slightly higher, and that they have no specialized way of creating technologies. again, this is not to blame them, simply that they might be more intelligent or have a different kind of intelligence as i implied earlier.

with all this said, this may have helped transform your views, if not no big deal. just a model of information to compare for the future.

I like the article. It goes quite well with a book that I wrote, I'm Not Stupid, I'm Right Brain, subtitled, Understanding Right Brain Intelligence & Gifting. Most brain books are written by left-brain people, who often misunderstand the right brainer.
The right or left brain dominant person does not define a person...more or less defines their thinking style.
The left has been aplauded for its aptitude. The right-brain person may not test well due to the fact that abstract language and grammar are located on the left side of the brain (Broca & Wericke). Auditory lies between the Broca & Wericke which is on the left brain (the ability to sound out the words).
Those who are right-bran must shift from the left ear to the right brain and then shift to the left brain. It takes longer for those who are dominant right brain to get the information. For this reason the right brain tends to scan read. They have a hurried mind. Because they are always playing catch up, they scan test, missing prepostions that could change the meaning of a sentence. They add words or leave out words when reading aloud.
For this reason right-brain people should not have standarize tests to measure their intelligence. They are brilliant when it comes to creativity, intuition and getting the job done. They make great motivational leaders.
If you want more...check rightbrainintelligence.com
Evie

Why is it so that we are trying to look for some differences in our brain. I dont think this mistery should be solved ever and so we could not manipulate how smart are we going to be. These differences are making the world more interesting place to be.

I think its true, creative people really do see the world differently to others. Well i do anyway. Some things i say to my friends doesn't make sense to them but it makes perfect sense to me. Its hard to explain. When it comes to music for example i can hear every single instrument and textures its like i can seperate everything i'm hearing lol none of this probably makes any sense but yeah, I do the think there is a difference.

Although this article was interesting I did not really find what I was hoping to find. I know people that have graduated at the top of their class (my boyfriend for example) yet lack common sense... not only common sense but the most basic historical facts for example, such as having no knowledge of Henry VIII even though he played an extremely important role in world history. My six year old niece knows who he is! I was hoping to find some kind of test to prove creative minded people are actually more intelligent than left brained people. Anyone can study hard and memorize numeric facts, dates, names, etc but it takes an intelligence we really cannot even measure to have talent in any creative form. I am an artist while my boyfriend graduated early from high school but which of us knew who a former king of England was and could list at least 5 facts about him? I did not do well in school unless I was studying something I had an interest in. That in no way makes me less intelligent. In some ways I believe I am actually the intellectual superior to the general public.

You know, I think it's true! I'm a left brained man who knows with absolute assurance that the universal faculty of reason belongs only where I live, that is, in the left side of my head. And I promise you that I would never have to refer, oh no, certainly not, to the right side of the brain if I were asked, "what is reason?" No, the answer is here somewhere. The right brain is a devious little blob anyhow. Again and again it sends me notes, little "missives," little scatterbrained epistles exhorting me to open the border. It already knows the answer, it says. It has an "intuition." No right brained aliens coming over here, let me tell you, to contaminate the pure air where right reason reigns, erected by its own sterile tautology, and where every sequence steps in the light of the geometric purity of the criterion of the straight and narrow, the hard and the fast, the hardlined rigorous pure thinking of thinking thought itself! Here on the left side of my head, I am so confident that I don't need to worry myself with questions about whether it makes very much sense at all to presume that only one half of the brain performs symbolic activity! That is not a ridiculous supposition! Nor do I need to ask myself if something like invention is analytically presupposed when such a leftbrained powerhouse as myself--a muscle-man (brain) of formal logic--methodically proceeds in sequences regulated by analytic principles to something new, to new ideas. The possibility of mathematical invention cannot be answered by the left brained master, so better not to think about it. That "creativity" acts upon abstractions is also a good thing for me to deny.

This is a wonderful article! This scientific information leads us to wonder how different we could be by being creative. Our creative intentions open doors to creative inventions which a non-creative mind would never be able to come up with.

I'm skeptical of the premise that people are one or the other -- or even right-brain dominant vs. left-brain dominant. I exhibit strong traits of both. My problem-solving process is very right-brained, depending strongly on the aha! moment and emphatically non-linear. I do not start with step one and proceed to step two etc; I approach a problem very holistically, thinking of all aspects at once. On the other hand, I am a very good test-taker and grammarian, understanding and relating to rules very well. My decision-making process relies heavily on reason, not emotion. I think there are separate sectors, and each of us is on a continuum in each one, so that someone can be very 'right-brained' in one area and very 'left-brained' in another.

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