In 2008 an article on Web MD (see below for full reference), it was reported that the bottom line for creativity was for the brain to get out of its own way and go with the flow. I cite this article as an example of evidence that proves that creativity is not isolated to one side of the brain.
Six full-time professional jazz musicians had their brains scanned twice while playing a scale or a memorized jazz piece. The first scan was when the music was performed exactly as written and again when they were free to improvise and apply their own interpretation.
During improvisation, the brain’s dorsolateral prefrontal and lateral orbital regions were far less active — and another brain area, the medial prefrontal cortex, was more active.
Don’t think that creativity is isolated to one side of the brain – that’s actually a lame notion.
Most of us tend to tap into one side more often and the other less. If you want to change this you can teach yourself lateral thinking skills so that you move more effortlessly between the two sides of the brain.
But back to those jazz musicians. During improvisation the brain regions that were quiet were involved in consciously monitoring, evaluating, and correcting behaviors. You could say that these are the skills that allow you to make decisions about aesthetics – i.e questions the quality of the creative pursuit or product.
In contrast, the medial prefrontal cortex allows self-expression, in this case in the form of jazz improvisation, according to the study. Expression is where you want to break free and communicate your own unique message, thoughts and ideas. This is the part of creativity where you don’t want to conform but where you feel the need to express yourself in an uninhibited spontaneous manner.
From this we can conclude that creativity isn’t just about self-expression. The brain’s sensory regions were more active during improvisation. There is no single creative area of the brain – it is all connected. This means that we can ALL learn to be more creative through practice. The study enforces that there is a strong and consistent pattern of activity throughout the brain that enables creativity.
- Brain Scans of Rappers Shed Light on Creativity (scientificamerican.com)
- This Is Your Brain on Freestyle Rap (news.discovery.com)