Overworking Your Brain Can Spark Ideas
If you want to get creative, lowering your inhibitions can help. This article explains how overworking your brain does exactly that. Excerpts:
Mental exhaustion can unleash creativity, research shows
By Madhuvanthi Kannan | June 9, 2015 | Scientific American
… it turns out that mental exhaustion from overwork can itself unleash creativity. When we are tired, our mind can be too weary to control our thoughts, and eccentric ideas that might normally be filtered out as non-relevant can bubble up, suggests a recent study by Rémi Radel at the University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis, France. This means that perhaps creative ideas can be hatched at the workplace, right when we feel drained from a mental overload….
… Radel’s attention task induced creativity in the students by exhausting their inhibition, which is the brain’s ability to sift out unwanted information from the conscious mind. Although inhibition is essential for day-to-day activities such as problem-solving and focusing on tasks, it stifles creative thinking by gating out eccentric thoughts and ideas. Uninhibited minds, on the other hand, can unleash our creative genius.
Low inhibition is in fact the basis of the paradoxical creativity seen in psychosis and the reason behind enviable accounts of sudden artistic output. For example, in a certain type of psychiatric disorder called fronto-temporal dementia, patients acquire artistic skills anew as their disease progresses….
… Being creative is not just about achieving a state of low inhibition, which is probably what we get from alcohol or drugs, but about tweaking inhibition for brief stints without losing control. Harvard psychologist Shelly Carson, author of Your Creative Brain, calls this process “flexing the brain.” She says that creative people can turn down the volume of inhibition to let novel ideas inspire them, and then, turn the volume back up to put their ideas to meaningful use.
Any strategy aimed at upping our creativity should do exactly this – help “manipulate” our inhibition. For beginners, Radel’s technique of overtaxing the brain, to find a sweet window for a creative spell, may be a good place to start…
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