A new study by psychologists at Northwestern University suggests that naturally creative thinkers find it more difficult than others to block out distractions.
The psychologists asked participants of varying ages to memorise names and faces while listening to music, and found a correlation between the career of the participant and a decline in their ability to recall information when music was a factor. Workers in art and design, for example, showed a noticeably lower ability to remember information when music was playing, finding that their brain more naturally focused on external stimuli than less creative figures.
The researchers concluded that creative thinkers have ‘leakier’ sensory filters; stimuli that the majority of the population filters out as irrelevant becomes stuck in creative’s minds, with the researchers arguing that many of history’s greatest minds had such leaky sensory filters, enabling some of their greatest discoveries. English students should consider Kafka’s famous saying “I need solitude for my writing; not ‘like a hermit’ — that wouldn’t be enough — but like a dead man” to see how many infamous hermit authors this research might apply to. Psychology and Medicine students should also consider the overlap between this leaky sensory filters and ADHD symptoms to gauge how creativity may be partnered with hyperfocus and a large intake of sensory data as typical of people with ADHD.
The study also found that the ability to be distracted was also linked to age. College age adults showed no difference in their ability to recall information when music was playing, while older adults showed a 10% decline in ability when there was background music. Working in silence, or listening to background white or pink noise, is therefore recommended for any easily distracted students, rather than music.
- Maths & Hard Sciences: answer like a pro Maths, Physics, Chemistry – they’re brilliant because there is a right... Read more >
- TSA Oxford mini mock & answers Thinking is very important to Oxford, so they’ve devised an... Read more >
- Oxbridge: the global impact Concerning UK university admissions, UCAS have released some interesting stats.... Read more >
- Interactive Interview Exercise Manual ‘What should I expect at my Oxbridge interview?’ ‘How will... Read more >
- February’s Top News Stories Read more about some of the biggest news stories to... Read more >
- Oxford and Cambridge International Grade Requirements If you’re applying to Cambridge or Oxford but you’ve not... Read more >
- January’s Top News Stories Read more about some of the biggest news stories to... Read more >
- MAT mini mock paper & answers If you are planning to apply to Oxford to read... Read more >
- March’s Top News Stories Read more about some of the biggest news stories to... Read more >
- Biological Sciences & Medicine: answer like a pro What kind of questions can you expect in an Oxford... Read more >
- Download an Economics Personal Statement 2 “Beyond this essential interest in the subject, I find that... Read more >
- What’s the Most Important Part of Your Application? An application to Oxford or Cambridge involves various different elements,... Read more >
- BMAT overview & tips If you’re applying for Medicine, Biomedical Sciences or Veterinary Medicine you... Read more >
- Medicine, Maths, and Economics Puzzles We asked three of our top Medicine, Maths, and... Read more >
- Download a History & English Personal Statement “Evidently reading is a major passion and Graham Greene has... Read more >
- Social and Political Sciences Reading List We’ve brought together a wide-ranging bibliography to help those applying... Read more >
- Science Puzzle: experimenting with mice… We asked our Medicine graduate Jennifer to tell us a... Read more >
- Download a Medicine Personal Statement Read our sample Medicine personal statement for application tips. Read more >
- Cambridge Language Test mini mock paper & answers Many Cambridge colleges require applicants for Modern Languages to sit... Read more >
- Download a Philosophy Personal Statement “Philosophy of the mind is my particular interest, especially the... Read more >
- Choosing The Right A-Levels Picking subjects at A level can be a difficult decision... Read more >
- Are my grades good enough for Oxbridge? Grades are an area of much misunderstanding when it comes... Read more >
- For Your Reference: Admissions Test Factfiles The majority of Oxford courses, and an increasing number of... Read more >
- July’s Top News Stories Read more about some of the biggest news stories to... Read more >