A new study is one of the first to show how the human brain works when showcasing ‘creativity’, bringing us closer to understanding the wiring that makes creative people stand out from the crowd.

Roger Beaty and his team set up experiments with test subjects, where the subjects were made to list all and any possible uses of basic household items (eg. a brick) while their brains were monitored with an MRI machine. The data was fascinating, in that it showed that multiple parts of the brain, which would not normally work together, were lighting up and having neurons fire at the same time. This is interesting because it invalidates the idea that there is such a thing as ‘left-brain’ or ‘right-brain’ thinking.

The study found that those who were perceived to be more creative (by coming up with a wider and more articulate range of answers) had more parts of their brain trigger than more normal study subjects. They were able to use more unusual combinations of parts of their brain, and the next question that Beaty and his team must ask themselves is whether this kind of thing can be trained.

Students thinking about applying for Experimental Psychology or PBS should certainly look at other experiments that have been undertaken on the human brain, and what they have shown. It is also important to understand what constitutes a well made experiment.

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