Surprising Study Finds That Creativity Is Not Actually Right Brain–It Is Left Brain

from Fast Company

Time to implode one of your sacred cows: Creative excellence is mostly driven by the left brain, not the right brain, according to new research. This flies in the face of all of our popular notions about how right-brain thinkers are free-spirited creatives while left-brain thinkers are steeped in logic and analytics.

In a new study in the journal NeuroImage, researchers at Drexel University conducted EEG scans while 32 guitarists to improvise jazz to six leads (songs). They found the guitarists’ brain activity to be almost entirely left-brain.

A caveat: Inexperienced improvisers displayed right-brain activity and, not surprisingly, lower-quality music. (Professional jazz musicians judged the music.) This is a key insight, because it indicates that right-brain creativity is more about how the brain handles novel artistic situations—i.e., I’m totally winging this creative thing.

More here.

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7 Responses to Surprising Study Finds That Creativity Is Not Actually Right Brain–It Is Left Brain

  1. Joe C. April 9, 2020 at 7:09 pm #

    The article written by Arianne Cohen informs the reader about a preconceived belief that creativity is in the right side of the brain and discusses how it is in the left side instead. I believe the brain is the most powerful weapon that an individual possesses. It is sad we do not fully understand it or use it 100%. The brain is like a perfectly intertwining maze that controls the human body that holds the idea of consciousness. It is the engine that powers the machine.

    This article describes where creativity comes from in the brain. It seems to me that creativity is stored in the left side and learning to be creative is right side dominate. For example, while learning to draw like an artist and mastering the skill, the brain uses the right side. It must focus on the directions, understand examples, and physically do the work. This learning process comes relates to the right side. Once the brain understands and grasps what to do and how to do it. True creativity from the left side of the brain starts to emerge.

  2. Ubteen Alborzfard April 10, 2020 at 9:10 pm #

    The common idea that creativity stems from the right side of the brain has been changed to the left after some new studies. Initially, many thought that those called right-brainers were “…Free-spirited” while left-brain dominant people were thought to be “…Steeped in logic and analytics.” The brain is extremely powerful and processes thoughts at an incredible rate, functioning like a supercomputer. Thus, it would make sense that different sides have different functions, allocating resources and responsibilities as needed. The study shows it is not so easy to draw a hard line between the different sides of the brain and exactly what they do, as shown by the long held belief that people dominant with the right side of their brain were thought to be more creative. Researchers are constantly working to understand the brain and its inner complexities as it may not be as black and white as previously thought. Case and point being that the research discovered that guitarists who were asked to improvise jazz music found that the brain activity at the point of improvisation to be occurring almost strictly in the left-brain. An important aspect to consider is that those guitarists who were “inexperienced” had higher right-brain activity, along with a “lower-quality” music. The article relates the use of the right brain for creative aspects as for more novel situations, such as “I’m totally winging this creative thing.” What that means is the right side would appear to be for situations one does not feel fully prepared for or confident enough to pull off necessarily, while the left brain was more used for those who have more preparation and experience to pull off a creative task. The article continues to mention that using the right side of the brain can be more active and controlled, as in receiving lessons from a teacher or coach where one would be actively trying to achieve the goals set forth by the instructor through the method demonstrated. The left brain meanwhile is less controlled and more a combination of experiences and lessons learned in the past all melded together, taking all the knowledge and applying it in such a way that would make it more unique to the individual, and difficult to copy. The practical use of this discovery could be in the way that the education systems are set up to teach. With the advancement of technology across the world, mundane tasks are being easier and easier to automate. This creates a greater demand for creative problem-solvers, which most companies will gladly take on in their company. The shift in the education system could help students shed poor habits and learn better ones from an early age, not only being able to think creatively and critically but also understanding how and why to get rid of habits that can be harmful to one’s self and others.

  3. Christopher L April 10, 2020 at 9:14 pm #

    I found this article very intriguing to me because I play multiple instruments and I am an accounting major so I have both attributes of using extensively my left and right brain in different subjects. I found this interesting because it is very important about the brain because we really don’t know much about it. The brain is the control system of our body is probably the most important organ because a brain cannot be replaced like the heart or kidney can. “A team of neuroscientists set out to test this premise. After a two-year analysis Trusted Source, they found no proof that this theory is correct. Magnetic resonance imaging of 1,000 people revealed that the human brain doesn’t actually favor one side over the other. The networks on one side aren’t generally stronger than the networks on the other side”. The brain has a strong connection and it is a very powerful one. The Healthline article gives detailed statements with background research on the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Creativity is such an important part. Even accountants have to get creative when it comes to presentation and as such

    Overall, knowing our brain is important and it could be the findings on how to cure mental illness and such. We can discover new things for medicine and it can start by just knowing the difference between the right and left brain.

    https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321060#brain-facts

    https://www.healthline.com/health/left-brain-vs-right-brain

  4. Matthew Pavlik April 17, 2020 at 8:36 pm #

    I always thought that the “left brain, right brain” arguments were never fully derived in science and this article puts a lot of evidence towards that thought (yay, me), but I cannot deny that the left and right halves of our brains are not in sync. I experimented with a mental health therapy which worked, where you had to hold two simultaneously vibrating handles, one in each hand, to stimulate that side of the brain and activate the full analytical and emotional capacity of the brain while being walked through a past situation. That was also not fully backed by science (I’ll put it somewhere between pills and eastern medicine in terms of its logical reasoning, closer to our pills than some herbal treatment), but we do not know enough about our brains to solely consider science when something works. Think about CTE which can only be diagnosed after death. Yes, we know that it is strongly correlated with severe mental health issues and is mostly caused by traumatic brain injury, but not everyone with brain injury gets it, many who have traumatic injuries do not, and some people who have never been struck to the head have seen mild cases caused by an abundance of “grey matter” in the brain. This disease is a boogeyman for football players and professional fighters, yet we cannot even definitively prove that it causes major issues and there are other factors at play. Maybe, we could even treat it when we get greater knowledge on the brain and its full functions, capacities, and capabilities inside and out. This is a step in the right direction, and hopefully it accelerates this sort of study.

  5. Tim Foo Siam April 24, 2020 at 5:05 pm #

    The study of the brain is an interesting topic. In my anatomy and physiology classes in high school, we learned a lot about how the brain works, and even had the opportunity to dissect a sheep’s brain. But reading about the brain in a textbook and poking a formaldehyde-scented brain with a scalpel doesn’t tell me everything about how the brain works. Looking at the different lobes of the sheep’s brain doesn’t make me feel any smarter without some application of it. In the article, scientists debunked the theory that creativity occurred in the right lobes of the brain rather than those on the left. This shows us that scientists have flaws in their studies, but it also shows us how confusing mystifying the brain is. There are many different diseases within the human that we have not discovered the source of, and the root of it is the brain. There is a lot more going on in there than we think, even if we think we understand the caliber of it.
    Something that was mentioned in the article that really interested me was the different aspects of creativity and where they appeared in the right and left lobes. According to Fast Company, the left lobe produced unconscious creativity such as improvising on the guitar. Meanwhile the right lobe focused on how the brain is handling artistic situations. This means that scientists were not necessarily wrong, but they were close. They discovered that the right side of the brain only worked for a portion of creativity, while the left side of the brain worked for the majority of it.
    Now that we know which side of the brain has the most important role in creativity, what can we do with this? How can we apply this information to possibly stimulate creativity in an individual? Can we use some form of electrical stimulation or hormonal stimulation? What advantage does this information provide us with? I feel as if this information is very important, but I feel like I’m looking at a wall. What more is there to this? It would definitely be interesting to see scientists develop some way to further back this information, as well as prove its importance to society.

  6. Ndzalama April 24, 2020 at 5:55 pm #

    Personally, I did not know much about what each side of the brain is used for, obviously through my life I would hear many of my teachers mention it but honestly, I was never listening to what they were saying. Now that I think about it I think there was a time back in the day in my biology class we were studying the brain and I think we also had to do exercises about them but that was around the time I was never in class so it make sense for me to not know anything about the brain. After reading this article: https://www.healthline.com/health/left-brain-vs-right-brain#staying-sharp, I have learned that apparently the left side of the brain is used for logic, sequencing, linear thinking, mathematics, facts, thinking in words and the right side of the brain is used for imagination, holistic thinking, intuition, arts, rhythm, non-verbal cues, feelings visualization and daydreaming. Another thing that I learned is that most people are split between being either right brain dominated or left brain dominated, well I thought that was just some interesting information to learn about also after learning more about the brain I think I understood the article more. What the article said kind of makes more sense when they say that creativity is not on the right side of the brain but on the left but I think it really does depend on the circumstances like the example that they used, it said that there was a group of musicians and a group of normal people well more like novice musicians and asked them to improvise a jazz to six leads. Obviously if you do not really know much about music it is going to take a tremendous amount of creativity for you to create something that the Jazz musician would judge to be pretty decent but if you are already a musician and have spent most of your life being creative with your music I think that at that point when you are told to improves jazz it is more logic that takes place to pull form all your years of experience of what sounds go well together or what is good jazz music then you would pull on some of your creative side in order for you create something. I am not sure if you understand what I am trying to say but that is probably because I did not do a good job in expressing my thoughts but anyway this is a Depp topic. It is like an iceberg in the sense that 90% of this topic is hidden “underwater”. Chew on that for a minute or two.

  7. John McKenna April 28, 2020 at 11:58 pm #

    This argument between left and right brained people has always been one that seemed somewhat baseless, we do know that certain areas of the brain are responsible for certain reactions, functions, and emotions, but most of it is relatively unknown. The human brain is the most complex thing that we know of that exists in our universe, way more complex than any system or computer made by humans. It’s no surprise we would discover something that goes against the old way of thinking. This study shows that there is still a lot about how our brains work that we don’t even know about, let alone have an understanding of. This discovery is particularly interesting though, as it shows differences in how our brains work when dealing with a brand new problem verse tackling a problem you have experience with already. The functions of human creativity operate differently depending on familiarity, according to this study, which makes sense really. Depending on your experience with a situation, you will attempt to solve it in different ways and prepare for it in different ways. There are different obstacles to look at depending on the situation, and so it makes sense that our brains have adapted to delegate our mental processing power where it is most efficient. If we are to believe that the right side of the brain is still responsible for creative thought and the left side is for more logical and analytical thought, then it makes sense why experienced creativity is left side oriented. When learning something knew, there are more unknown variables than known ones, even the amount of unknown variables is unknown. You have to be prepared for anything, and it makes the learning experience much more spontaneous. However, if we look at, for instance, a seasoned guitar player, because they already know how to play chords and make music, the unknown variable is much less, and therefore they can process their creativity in a more analytical way. It is interesting to see the developments in understanding how the human brain works.

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