Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Creativity and Commutativity


Creativity can be seen in eye movement -- witness the body of common knowledge on how to detect a liar from their their "creative" eye movements -- and consciously generated eye movement can generate creativity.

In findings printed in the journal Brain and Cognition and reported in Scientific American Mind (it's short! and you can listen to it!), cognitive scientists have been able to show that "when you boost the level of communication between the right and left hemispheres your creativity increases" -- and it turns out that consciously generating some creative eye movement can induce this increase in creative activity by stimulating left/right hemisphere interaction.

We discussed with Linda Stone back in October about the "commutative" properties of many physiological conditions and their neuropsychological correlates.

For example, anxiety produces shallow breathing, but shallow breathing alone has been shown to increase anxiety. Relaxation gurus and Zen masters have been putting this principle of commutativity into practice well before this trend in scientific evidence began to emerge.

If changes in eye movement are symptomatic of an ideation event in the individual, then I wonder if the effect we see in this study, starting with the symptom of creative eye movements to generate creativity, is another example of the same "commutativity" between neurology and behavior?

If so, then we're gradually honing in on a trend in human neuropsychology that has the potential to empower us to Be All We Can Be by literally being what we'd like to feel, and feeling what we'd like to be.

As Christie Nicholson reports,
So when brainstorming ideas for that new Thanksgiving dish or the name of your unborn son, maybe try bilateral eye movement which, in the words of science, increases your inter-hemispheric interaction, and in turn increases your options.

44 comments:

Chris G. on November 23, 2009 at 7:10 PM said...

That's awesome. :)

That explains why left-handed people tend to be more creative -- we have fatter corpus callosums.

I've always wondered which is the cause and which is the effect -- is the fat callosum genetically prescribed by the right-brain dominance, or does right-brain dominance *require* more communication, which makes the brain adapt by fattening the corpus callosum?

Personally, the best ways I've found for being creative involves some simple psychological tricks:

* be relaxed
* convince yourself that what you're doing isn't important (eg. there is no "fail")
* have a bit of energy
* have few distractions (a good creative time is late at night for this reason)
*

I heard an interesting theory that creativity is a process where the right side generates vague ideas, and the left side checks whether they make sense. So, you have to engage the right side to start off the process. Artists use tricks like, "just draw a squiggle on the canvas and see what you can turn it into". That "what does it look like?" is a right-brain process, while looking at a blank canvas and saying "what should I draw?" is more of a... I dunno... that's just bad. :)

Some guy actually designed a neural net with a left/right hemisphere called the creativity engine:

http://www.mindfully.org/Technology/2004/Creativity-Machine-Thaler24jan04.htm

Apparently it created some toothbrushes and a laser diamond making machine or something.

Here's some other interesting cognitive research that's tangentially connected:

http://www.cogsci.ucsd.edu/~coulson/research.htm

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