- People with savant syndrome, who possess great skill in specific areas, seem to have a more literal, less filtered cognitive style than most people.
- A savant may have dysfunction in the normally dominant left hemisphere of the brain, which the right hemisphere compensates for.
- Using noninvasive brain stimulation, scientists are attempting to induce this pattern of brain activity, so as to produce a less filtered cognitive style and to access a different way of looking at a given problem.
A great idea comes all of a sudden. In the depths of the mind, networks of brain cells perform a sublime symphony, and a twinkle of insight pops into consciousness. Unexpected as they are, these lightbulb moments seem impossible to orchestrate. Recent studies suggest otherwise. By freeing the mind of some of its inhibitions, we might improve creative problem solving.
The human brain constantly filters thoughts and feelings. Only a small fraction of the stimuli impressed on us by our environment ascends to the level of conscious awareness. Prior learning enforces mental shortcuts that determine which sensations are deemed worthy of our attention. Our laboratory is investigating whether we can weaken these biases and boost openness to new ideas by temporarily diminishing the neural activity in specific brain areas.
This article was originally published with the title Switching on Creativity.