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.
- Download a Medicine Personal Statement 2 “Further work experience has highlighted some of the demands and challenges... Read more >
- Download a Biology Personal Statement “Assisting with the post mortem of a dairy cow during... Read more >
- Mathematics Reading List Studying Mathematics at university requires a different approach to studying... Read more >
- BMAT overview & tips If you’re applying for Medicine, Biomedical Sciences or Veterinary Medicine you... Read more >
- English Language and Literature Reading List If you're applying for English, have a look at our... Read more >
- TSA Cambridge mini mock & answers The Thinking Skills Assessment is required for a number of... Read more >
- Philosophy Reading List If you are interested in Philosophy, there are several options... Read more >
- University Admissions Tests: How Would You Reply? Here we have a few questions and answers to sample... Read more >
- Bursaries Both Oxford and Cambridge are committed to the principle that... Read more >
- How is the BMAT marked? The BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) is marked significantly differently from... Read more >
- Oxford and Cambridge Access Schemes Oxford and Cambridge aim to offer places to the best... Read more >
- TSA overview A huge range of subjects at both Oxford and Cambridge... Read more >
- MAT mini mock paper & answers If you are planning to apply to Oxford to read... Read more >
- Download a Law Personal Statement “Participating in a Citizenship Foundation Mock Trial Competition during Year... Read more >
- What’s so special about Oxford and Cambridge? Both Oxford and Cambridge have fearsome reputations. The Oxbridge system... Read more >
- Personal Statement Workbook Download A personal statement is a unique document which is all... Read more >
- LNAT overview If you’re applying for Law at Oxford you will need to sit... Read more >
- Science Puzzle: experimenting with mice… We asked our Medicine graduate Jennifer to tell us a... Read more >
- Medical & Biological Sciences Reading Lists Medicine and the whole range of Biological Sciences are highly... Read more >
- Personal statement: our tips in the Independent Here are 3 quick tips every hopeful should consider before... Read more >
- The Most Competitive Subjects At Oxbridge (And How To Choose Wisely) Oxford and Cambridge are two of the best universities in the... Read more >
- Cambridge Law Test overview If you’re applying to read Law at Cambridge you will probably need... Read more >
- Maths Puzzle: a game of chess We asked one of our top Maths Oxbridge tutors for... Read more >
- Taking a Gap Year There are a number of advantages to taking a gap... Read more >