Electric brain stimulation may boost creativity
Sending small doses of electrical currents to the brain may be able to stimulate creativity, based on recent research at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
The team of scientists stimulated the brains of adults using a low 10-Hertz current via electrodes placed on the scalp. This current, researchers said, targets the alpha oscillation brain patterns, which run on frequencies between 8 and 12 Hertz. This pattern is most commonly triggered when we close our eyes and daydream, meditate or brainstorm, a time when we tend to reduce our senses - cutting out things we see, hear, taste, feel and smell.
The team studied 20 healthy adults with two sessions. One electrode was placed on each side of the front of the scalp and a third was placed on the back. In the first session, 10-hertz currents were sent to the brain for five minutes. then participants were asked to take the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, a well-known comprehensive test, for the next 25 minutes. The second session was the same, except the participants’ brains received the electrical current for the entire 30 minutes.
The team found that brain stimulation for 30 minutes generated creative test scores that were 7.4 percentage points higher than when using the current for five minutes. Researchers further tested the results by increasing the frequency to 40 Hertz - which triggers the gamma brain pattern in charge of processing things we touch, hear or see. This, they said, had no effect on creativity.
The researchers believe this technique may help those with severe premenstrual syndrome, or those struggling with depression who suffer from thought blocks or disconnect with reality.
The study is published in the journal Cortex.