How our brains work when we are creative: The science of great ideas

This is a good one. Unless you don’t care about being creative, in which case, welcome to the wonderful world of development executives!

Just kidding. (Not.)

by Belle Beth Cooper

creative-brainAh, ideas. Who doesn’t want more great ideas? I know I do.

I usually think about ideas as being magical and hard to produce. I expect them to just show up without me cultivating them, and I often get frustrated when they don’t show up when I need them.

The good news is that it turns out cultivating ideas is a process, and one that we can practice to produce more (and hopefully better) ideas. On the other hand, often times great ideas can also just come to us whilst in the shower or in another relaxing environment.

First, let’s look at the science of the creative process.

How our brains work creatively

So far, science hasn’t really determined exactly what happens in our brains during the creative process, since it really combines a whole bunch of different brain processes. And, contrary to popular belief, it includes both sides of our brains working together, rather than just one or the other.

The truth is, our brain hemispheres are inextricably connected. The two sides of our brains are simply distinguished by their different processing styles.

The idea that people can be “right brain thinkers” or “left brain thinkers” is actually a myth that I’ve debunked before:

The origins of this common myth came from some 1960s research on patients whose corpus callosum (the band of neural fibers that connect the hemispheres) had been cut as a last-resort treatment for epilepsy. This removed the natural process of cross-hemisphere communication, and allowed scientists to conduct experiments on how each hemisphere worked in isolation.

Unless you’ve had this procedure yourself, or had half of your brain removed, you’re not right or left brained.

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